… all you do is open your veins and let them bleed on the page.
Curious thing about writing. I do it every day, for a living, and have done for the past ten-plus years. But what I’m doing this month, writing for money I will not see for at least a year, is different, because I’m finding it takes more discipline than the shorter articles and smaller projects I do every day.
What’s also odd is that I’m finding the need to write before I write. There’s a great quote from Lord Byron: “If I don’t write to empty my mind, I go mad.” More and more this week, I’m finding that to be true. I have a lot of stuff floating around in my brain, and I find I need to clear out the cobwebs to make any sense at all. That’s what this is, and my apologies for that, but no one’s making you read.
This week is not without challenges. El Cap’s parents are staying with us, perhaps temporarily, perhaps not. They are not hard people to have around, but it takes some getting used to having other people around during the day, to say the least. I talk to myself a lot, which is fine when it’s me and Calypso. It’s just something I do, usually when I get up to stretch or get tea, which involves me walking out of my study (which I call my Bat Cave) and into the kitchen. Calypso usually comes with me because the clever dog knows there’s a good chance there will be cheese.
When you add two other people into the mix, one of whom doesn’t hear well anyway, it gets weird, because they think I’m talking to them when, in reality, I’m really just making words bump together to get my mind working, or talking to the dog to prove that I still have the power of speech. Also, Calypso doesn’t judge me when I talk to her. I can tell her anything. It’s an adjustment not to tell her I need to shave my bikini line or that my butt itches when I go get my tea, because I feel as though the El Cap v.1 and his lovely wife really don’t need to hear about those sorts of things. What’s more, they probably (OK, definitely) don’t want to hear those things.
Nevertheless, I’ve got a nice little routine going. Write things like this, get some tea, and get down to it. In between, I keep having these thoughts that I could very easily adjust to this lifestyle. I mean, aside from the lack of income at the present. So, you know, if anyone wants to just hand me money to do this, you know where to find me.
Some days the best you can hope for is cheese.
Really, I mean that. My washing machine isn’t working, all I want is a steak and all I have on hand is romaine and sweet potatoes, and, at last check, I’ve gained about 25 pounds since college. I’m not having a great day here, and that doesn’t bode well for my evening which, since it’s Tuesday, will be spent listening to the city council decide the fate of the city. Which city? It doesn’t matter. They’re all the same: they do things, someone gets upset, and the meeting goes on. The lawyer talks and the clerk tries not to while the city manager gets to act as some sort of suit-and-tie referee for the whole weird carnival. They could sell pretzels and cotton candy and make a damn fortune.
I may need a vacation. I notice a definite “cranky” trend, even for me, which is definitely saying something. I’m rapidly losing my tolerance for this nonsense that passes for local government, and I don’t just mean the politicians. I mean the people who forget that there are more important things in life than what your city government does on Tuesday nights.
OK, I will grant you that I am a big believer that city politics impact your life more than state affairs, and, following this to its logical conclusion, state politics more so than national. I still believe that. But I think it’s time we all get a little perspective adjustment.
Every morning I stumble to the coffee maker. I use the word “stumble” when I should write “trip over the cats and mumble loudly at things in my path,” but you get the drift. I pour myself a cup of coffee so strong that, at my last office job, I was released from coffee-making duties after my coworkers spent the morning in the bathroom. I wait for the caffeine to hit the blood, get dressed, and head to my office. All I have to say at this point is “Come on, Calypso, let’s go to work!” and she takes off at a dachshund-gallop towards the oversized chair where we work, curls up next to me, and sleeps away the day (I guess if you’re a dachshund, that’s work.)
While she sleeps I wade through myriads of city documents, trying to understand out how the city plans to pay for the coming year’s expenses (current logic is shells and beads) or how much money, exactly, another city will spend fighting lawsuits about something it did three years ago (I’m not sure but there’s talk of the commission selling their kidneys).
Calypso, for her part, ignores countless calls to council members, commissioners, my editor, and anyone else I contact. She lives for Friday morning meetings at the Gabber and the Tuesday Market in Gulfport because she gets a car ride and new scenery, but other than that, she sleeps.
Calypso can sleep through anything but cheese. Some days life isn’t so exciting for her, and, if she’s lucky, around three o’clock, I will get up and head into the kitchen and get a piece of string cheese. The moment – the exact instant – when she hears the wrapper rattle, her endearing dachshund snores and puppy dreams cease and she bolts upright in our chair. I will find her waiting there for me when I return, her ridiculously fluffy ears cocked and her eyes begging me for cheese. She knows – she hopes – that she will get the final bite.
And, of course, she always does. She is my faithful companion; my friend. More than that, she is the only one in the world who could hope to stay sane while listening to me talk about sewers and discarded wigs and palm tree fires.
Anyone who has a dog – or has loved a dog – knows that outside of a dog’s heart, nothing else matters. I can be working on an article or column that I swear I’m really, really passionate about, but then I will feel her settle in to my thigh just a little more tightly, or her snout will push hot dachshund breath across my leg. It is in that moment that I couldn’t care less about city hall or meetings or politics.
Maybe I would have more tolerance for the meetings I could bring Calypso to the meetings. I feel like I could handle some of the ridiculous things discussed there, like whether or not a link on a city web site could lead to people going to the bathroom on TV, if I could feel her snuggled up next to me.
For her part, she wouldn’t care what anyone was saying, not if she thought there was a remote chance she’d get a piece of cheese at the end. Because Calypso is all about the big picture. She sees what matters. She understands perspective.
She knows that some days, you can just hope for cheese.
Contact Cathy Salustri at CathySalustri@theGabber.com.