⚡ June 28, 1999
The Weak Get Going 🍼
An entire week, the first on line, has passed like a stone.
To say I’m proud is nowhere near the truth – the truth is that I’m bursting with joy. Unalloyed joy. Also pretty tired. If this were any easier, I would have done it sooner.
And yet, it’s so incredibly insubstantial. If my foot hits the plug strip, the whole screen winks away. If I can’t get my modem to pick up, no pixels storm down the line. If I don’t tell anybody about this site, it is absolutely invisible.
So now comes the moment of truth, sort of, when I’m going to try to venture out and mention this place and see if I can lure someone into my electronic office to take a virtual look. Where to begin? It’s a very big office and I’ve been working here for many years. I know: how about we start with my blank paper collection? That’s the easist to explain. I’ve got a huge amount neatly stacked, of course, because I don’t want to burn in Purgatory.
I am a person of given to extremes. Some say that’s my big problem. Huge, hair-brained schemes. All or nothing, blowing hot or cold; jumping to the wrong conclusions. Making mountains out of molehills. Six-foot high stacks of discarded manuscripts, TV scripts, MOWs, proposals, proofs.
I was watching TV, in the middle of the day, as would sometimes happen when we first arrived here. On this particular day I was in a really bad mood, so bad that I wouldn’t give myself the pleasure of ameliorating it with two little flowered Pamprins; so bad that I wouldn’t take the edge off it just for spite, I was so mad. At nothing in particular. At many things in general. The night before I’d dreampt that Igor spilled milky Cheerios all over the kitchen floor, leaving them flattened and stuck hard in the bowl in the sink like evil hole reinforcements.
Taos Indians, and their adobe pueblo. That’s what I found myself watching. We’d actually been there, stopping off in Taos and visiting the Indians when we drove out here from Manhattan. Even though we were in a big hurry to race across the United States as if we had urgent appointments, hauling everything we owned in one small hot car, lurching feverishly from cell to cell so Igor could Keep in Touch, we nonetheless stopped off in Taos for a day. Oddly, one day turned into two, and by the third day, we didn’t want to leave.
Here was a place where people loved and honored and practiced their God-given work. It could be crockery: several generations of clay potters, working the new clay, kneading with a bare foot strong as a fist. Then, another family. This time their speciality was dancing. Just dancing. Painting the faces of their tiny, round babies, the oldest youth in dark gray feathers, pretending to be Eagle.
The part of the TV show that brought me to tears, however, was the part about the polishing stones. The clay-making woman had a collection of glittering, perfectly gorgeous speckled stones like rare birds’ eggs, arrayed on an unfolding chamois nest. These were the polishing stones given to her, like the skill itself, by her mother.
They were cradled so lovingly on the cloth, each one warm from the palm and sparkling as if it had just been pulled from a clear rinse of bottled mountain spring water. The perfect stone to buff the perfect raw pot until it gleams. I was so sad, so miserable, so lonely, so homesick; I have nothing going for me, no center, no purpose, no job, no life. The perfect TV watcher.
And then I thought: paper is my medium! Just like the clay for one family, the dance for another, I love and care for paper as if I were born to it. I collect, stack, store paper. I am one of the last guardians of paper. Come to my house, I will show you my stationary closet.
Stamping the backs of old scripts, old letters, old junk mail and manuscripts with my special swirly flower that looks like a watermark, carefully centered in the middle of the writing or the typing to show the wrong side. Ready to go into the laser writer or my clip board, clean side up. Stacked and smoothed and saving my soul.
You just keep on going, kneading, buffing, dancing, polishing … that’s what you do, if you want to succeed. The only way to fail is to quit.
What a grind, huh?
Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow turns on its mighty axis. 🐔