I read this right before bed last night:
“Come my dear, do you know nothing? Relate something to us, like the others.” She said: Then I will relate a dream.” -The Robber Bridegroom, from the Brothers Grimm
Then I had the first of my anxiety dreams:
I’m at a party, or watching a movie of a party, can’t tell which one. Miranda July is there, I think that’s her, or somebody with her style- eyeliner, prim 80s hairdo and silk blouse. An old friend is there, a boy named Ben I used to crave, with his bright orange hair in a long mullet/Mohawk. I can tell that Miranda is his kind of girl. Everyone seems to be galloping around in the basement of an art museum or something. Surrounded by cool people, like Myra said at the club on Saturday, I felt a pang of longing. I should have worn something different.
Perhaps they are making a movie together. Does she collaborate with her boyfriends? That is so cool. I didn’t know her boyfriend was Mike Mills, the graphic designer. I read this in a magazine last week and it was as titillating to me as a grocery store tabloid. Like Britney and Ryan Phillipe. Anyways, I saw his name in the dream, but not his face. “Mills” as a logo, as in the trucking company– thick circus type in yellow and red on blue. It would make a nice tag, a vinyl sticker. I must have seen it on a truck on the drive up I-75 north, just passing through my peripheral.
I like to parse my dreams. Here we find an examined life where nothing is original. Roadside advertising, magazine celebrity, young art stars, old crushes and envious hairstyles. Is this really what goes on in my head? Apparently.
Picked up Margaret Atwood's book on writing and here's some lines that rang a bell:
Writers share “the inability to distinguish between the real and the imagined, or rather the attitude that what we consider real is also imagined: every life lived is also an inner life, a life created.”
Are writers somehow dishonest? In denial? I am trying to find out if other people narrarate their quiet actions the way I do. This sense of the constant voice, the dialogue in my head that is both supremely self-conscious and wildly oblivious. I first noticed I was doing it while climbing a hill by my elementary school. Is this what is meant by “living in the moment” ?
“Three kinds of books: books read in school as part of the course, acceptable books read openly outside of school- found lying around the house or got from the library- and books suspected of being taboo, peeked at while baby-sitting for careless neighbors.”
This is funny because I remember reaching the age, just past graduation, where these divisions disappeared and all books fell in to one vast non-category. I kept pointing out to people that I was free to read whatever I wanted, what a thrill. I started developing my own outlines for “media studies,” including “old books I ought to have read,” “publishing phenomena,” “the kind of writing I might like to do some day,” and “novels of distraction.” Also, I did a lot of the 3rd type of reading while babysitting and hanging out at Grandma’s condo.
“We shared many of the same childhood pursuits, but he gave them up and turned to other forms of amusement, and I did not.”
She was referring to her brother, who once surprised her by admitting that he had entertained the idea of becoming a writer. We like these blunt statements about the difference between a writer and everyone else. We want to believe that it’s really that simple. This goes hand in hand with the quote from Graham Greene: "One has no talent... I have no talent. It's
just a question of working, of being willing to put in the time." Also, Atwood talks about the importance of books and solitude in her childhood, which seems like a basic formula. Even though I imagine it’s not that simple, I’m promising myself and Jason and our future children more of that.
I heard Sarah Vowell give a reading and she commented that if she’s doing her job properly, it involves lots of sitting in one spot for long periods of time. And I remember seeing Flannery O’Connor’s desk at Andalusia, her crutches leaning against the chair. Loneliness is built in to this process. Books and solitude, sitting and silence.
Along those lines:
“True silence which is creative silence is the most demanding activity God asks of any of us. Here it is that heart and mind and will, memory and imagination are gathered up and collected in God.”
I am only silent when I am disciplined- reading, writing, designing, praying, running and flossing.