Tuesday, February 10, 2015

In Media Res

This was from a few weeks ago...never hit send...


My playwright neighbor sent me a novel contest with a deadline tomorrow and I have to admit really--to myself--that only the novel I co-wrote with the local mom is anywhere near ready to final to send to a contest. The other three are all still in media res. And right now I'm in media res of so many things...even just reading, for example, Malory's Morte D'Arthur in the original fifteenth-century English, which is a bit slow going. In the middle of A Midsummer Night's Dream. At the beginning of Gone Girl and All the Light We Haven't Seen. Halfway through Uncommon Arrangements. Partway into The Environmental Imagination. Just starting out with Going Away to Think, but not myself going away to think, just staying here trying to do it.

And this is not even half of what I'm actively right now in the middle of reading, not to mention all the other books scattered about that I haven't touched in months. Wally is approaching the 100th day of school in a few weeks, which means he must be right in the middle of first grade. I'm nearing halfway through the first year of my Master's. Petra is still waking up a lot, going to bed with a lot of fuss, getting up super early--going through some kind of transition. Alex has set up a home studio here, playing some of the many recordings we started, almost luring me back in...right now I can hear through his headphones "Methods of Infection" from so many years ago.

Isn't it great to be in the middle of things...in the middle of winter, in the middle of a million projects, in the middle of the crazy years of child-rearing, in the middle of studying the time that used to be called the Renaissance?

Isn't it great to look out the window during an early dinner, turn the lights out and say - look - do you notice something. What? It's 5:30 and you can still see light, even here facing East in this Manhattan cave, you can still seen light? So different than even a month ago at this time.

It is January 30, 2015. Sometimes saying the date out loud is just really striking and powerful. We write it all the time, miswrite it, by a year or a decade, but to say it out loud, it feels like marking the time, saying - I know we are spinning and spinning and snap your fingers and the newborn Petra will be two and it will be three years since you wrote that co-written novel, the only finished one you have, snap your fingers and Wally will be in 2nd grade, 3rd, 4th, 5th, those unfinished recordings already 8 years old now - even the latest ones...but you can stop, that's all you can do, stop and hold the moment sometimes and say -- this is where I am now right in the middle of things -- you can say say to Wally 
-- It is so strange to have been born not only in a different century, but -- by chance -- in a different millennium. 

And then to laugh, Alex and I, erupt into near hysterical laughter remembering what people thought about Y2K, how there was supposed to be some full-system meltdown because of an oversight in coding or just a shortcut or just the inconceivability of anything other than the 20th century, the American century. But it was totally fine. The seconds ticked down to midnight and Vince stomped on a glass and we ran on the cold beach and Kurt Vile played guitar for us before he was Kurt Vile and everything was fine. 

And tonight Wally said, "I wish I was born in another millennium" and I said you were born in such a great year (2008) and it will always be remembered as an incredible, momentous year when something radical and amazing happened. And he remembered then and we talked about Civil Rights and he couldn't fathom a time when some people could use one water fountain and other people could not. 

And then we'll get on with the bedtime routines -- they're so long! Milk and pajamas and books and then brushing teeth but feeling hungry for a quick snack and having to brush teeth again. And then cleaning up every night like as if we had a busy NYC restaurant, dishes, sweeping, trash out, recycling down...this is without anything extra like laundry or whatever else. And then a big sigh and panic at the time and the amount of work still ahead. Then the work. Then feeling annoyingly hungry and you know you should eat like a banana or something but you don't feel like it. Rummaging around for something better then falling asleep in front of Jon Stewart and dragging to bed and setting the alarm for way too early then saying if you stay awake for even one minute after your head hits the pillow, "I can't sleep" because I don't know why I've always done that ever since I was a kid and Alex laughs every time at the ridiculousness of it and so do I and by then I'm usually asleep.

But there was that moment there where you stopped, where you stared out the window, where you laughed with Wally and Petra, where you acknowledged the amazing good fortune to have spent all these years on Sir Philip Sidney's "much-loved earth" made "more lovely" by poetry, where you acknowledge the good fortune to spend your evenings reading that poetry, that moment where you took it all in. 

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

I coulda been a contender

I am on the editorial board for CURA "A Literary Magazine of Art and Action" at Fordham. It is one of the things that drew me here, along with the half literature/half writing program that has now been mostly dissolved. 

We're producing a real, legit lit mag with many well-established writers but also want to "give a voice" to those who don't have any real platform. Toward that end we're starting monthly writing prompts. We'll publish some or maybe even all of the responses we get on our tumblr site