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Saturday, January 14, 2012

From the Left

On Writing...
The Funky Chelsea
I was very friendly at one time with a couple who lived at the Chelsea Hotel in New York City. He was a writer of sorts producing scripts and speeches for a variety of corporate clients for live and video taped events. He had a then to me, curious habit of walking every morning to a favorite expresso bar ( this was pre-Starbucks) and spending several hours writing and sipping several cuppas. I didn't understand this behavior at all, but I was not at the time, doing much writing myself. I hired writers when I needed one. 

Now I am writing; daily and for several hours whenever possible and I have a greater understanding of both the process and practice. For example, right now I'm sitting in the cafeteria in the massive hospital complex that is St. Barnabus in Livingston, New Jersey. My mother is resting in recovery having gone through a serious and discomforting procedure. She's fine for the moment. I am relieved. 

But here I sit, surrounded by a sea of chattering humanity many of whom are health care professionals. You can pick them out by their white labs coats or sea foam green scrubs. It's lunchtime. No one person captures my interest for very long. We take no particular notice of one another. Conversations around me are peppered with words like social workers, track meet, my desk, ultrasound, social media and Aruba. They are bits of conversations you might hear in any large nice American cafeteria but for the sea of green and white which helps distinguish the nature of this place -- that and the number of hip pockets with stethoscopes.

There is, I have discovered over time, a kind of comfort I experience when writing in a room like this, a room filled with others going about their lives. While my rich inner monologue continues at full speed ahead and my writing continues unabated, the focus required to do this, in spite of the fuss around me, keeps me company.  I think I understand why my friend did his writing in an expresso bar. Writing is a solitary experience but has the advantage of being more transportable than other artistic habits. 

Sam I Am  -- Not.
I am reminded of a Dr. Seuss book, Green Eggs and Ham. Sam I Am eventually discovers he can eat them anywhere with anything. I can write that in a car, stuck in tar, in a bar. Well, you get the idea. I entertain myself and may be a curious sight, smiling and making faces, squinting as I sit here with my ever present black and white composition book open to the wrong side of the page as I fill them back to front to ease the flow and pressure of writing long and left handed. I’ve always had to compensate in some way for being a lefty. The world is counter designed to our needs. (I loved Ned Flanders’s Lefties Emporium on The Simpsons.) Perhaps that’s why lefties lead shorter lives; we always have to swim against the tide.

I’ve just noticed how much it has quieted down here since I started writing this entry.  The noon lunchtime rush has thinned out considerably.  I suppose I should get to eat myself but I’m not really hungry. My hand is tired though. I’ve put in a couple of good hours exercising my craft since I arrived here early this morning. It’s been a brilliant distraction from worry.

I have been in the company of others without having to tend to anyone’s needs. I’ve been writing about all kinds of things, which always lift my spirits, and moves me forward, including this little epiphany. For this all to brief moment, all is well.

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