~but ya are, blanche, ya are!~

October 29th, 2006

The first thing I did was hang paper lanterns from China Town on all the lamps.
Years of hotel living has made clear the importance of lighting in cozying-up the joint. Or maybe it’s my inner Blanche DuBois. Though the walls are of wood, the studio is modern and airy and not especially cozy for a rustic gal like myself. Now that I’ve dragged the office depot plastic desk out of sight and figured out I could nest in the loft as opposed to the bedroom, and made myself an altar of sorts with pine tree branches and candles and sugar skulls (and Ganesh, thank you David), it’s starting to feel better.

Exposed. Exposed seems to be the primary feeling in the swirl of emotions. Or maybe it’s the one I’m most surprised to feel. I knew I’d have the fright of “what if I can’t do anything and my time is wasted”, and “I’m not really a writer” and “wow, that’s a lot of solitude!”, but the exposed feeling I hadn’t expected.

The studio is has floor to ceiling–maybe twenty feet high—windows that look out on a meadow, where I’m told deer graze. It’s a lovely view, but I’d have preferred the other side of the cabin, which is a forest of deep green and fox-colored trees. Kimberly means “Queen of the Meadow”, but I’m really a forest gal, a gal who likes to be tucked away.

The feeling of walking into the dining room last night was just insane. I really had to force myself to go be The New Girl and get sized-up and make where-are-you-from-what-do-you-do talk. Naturally the first friend I made is a gay man, Paul. Another experimental doc filmmaker turned writer, and also from SF. (Did you know there is an area called the TransMission? I felt so old!)

Though I got an invitation to go to the one pub in town from a lovely Italian translator gal, instead I came back to the studio and dragged the furniture around in true crab fashion. I just needed to retreat and also to assure myself that the studio could be cozied.

I imagine everyone who comes here from their lives of doing other things goes through this, the shell-shock, the amped on-stage feeling, the hopes and expectations of the self, and the decompression that is a little painful.

I keep breathing deep breaths, just trying to feel my body, listen. Do I want a nap? Should I take a walk? Print pictures of Lilly? Work on the outline? Edit the first chapter in case I get the nerve to read from it while I’m here? I feel like I’m taking care of a baby that’s crying and I don’t know why: Is she wet? Hungry? Tired? Or just full of ennui?

My instinct has been to retreat, to scuttle sideways from certain kinds of emotional intensity, and I ‘spose that’s the instinct of most people in day-to-day life. Part of why I’m here is to not do that, to learn to sit with it, listen to my feelings, ask myself gentle, but insistent questions.

It is an incredible gift, but it will take courage too. The book, if it becomes what it deserves to be, will take a level of honesty and putting a fine point on it that I haven’t conjured in some time, and never in this particular way.

Being an artist, or any kind of delving person, takes guts.

Right now it takes guts for me to spend a month alone, with nearly nothing to distract me, and just conjure up the demons.

It also takes guts to stand in front of the other people here and say I’m a writer, having written thirty pages. Pages—by the way—that I began to read today and had to just stop.

Asking for what I need and deserve: the time and space to work uninterrupted, including the notion that this is valid and meaningful, that took guts too, maybe most of all.

I feel brave, and fearful. It’s a struggle to fight the cowardly instincts. It’s a struggle for me to take care of myself. I do it well for others, but I’m still learning about the me part. I got in the giant tub today and watched the snow fall and cried. I don’t even know if it was a happy or sad cry. All of the above. Throw in grateful and terrified too.

Virginia Wolfe said that writing a book was like going from room to room, illuminating a house that is already furnished. So should I read into it much that the one item I forgot is my flashlight? I did bring my candelabra, I ‘spose it’s just me pulling a gothic move again. I’ll be somnambuling my way through the forests in my Victorian nightgown in no-time.

Here is a picture of the Chelsea Royale diner where we had lunch yesterday, thank you Noria for the tip. And one I took yesterday morning of Xie, who I am missing already.

The address here is: MacDowell Colony 100 High Street Peterborough NH 03458
I would love to find something in my mailbox, as long as it’s not a mason jar of fried chicken packed in grease, like my grandpa sweetly sent when I was in college.

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2 Responses to “~but ya are, blanche, ya are!~”

  1. noria says:

    Exposed. Yes, well, that is precisely the nature of the beast you’re conceiving, so I suppose that’s apt. But from one shelly sort to another: Ack!

    If you need an in with Mary, you can remind her that you helped her with her Playboy-medallion necklace at KGB.

  2. Habib says:

    Did you really bring your candelabra? Of course you did!
    The best thing about the gift you’ve been given is that it’s yours to do with what you please. Don’t put expectations on yourself to make great art, but follow your delight. Create the routine of your dreams; a bath in the morning, a walk in the woods, eat your breakfast in a tree, write blindfolded. Do whatever makes you happiest and the work with reflect the freedom. Thinking of you.

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