Thursday, July 30, 2009

I could get used to this, but I can't

I've spent this morning, as I've spent just about every morning in July, drinking coffee and reading. The only variation has been whether it's in the bedroom, which is cozy and delightful but can get too hot, or up front in the cool, breezy sun room surrounded by a sea of green in every direction and by the singing and flitting about of bluejays, wrens, robins, sparrows, swallows as well as the occasional cardinal and oriole. (Pure luck, the house is on a dead end, there are trees on all sides, and our apartment's on the top floor, perfect vantage point for birdwatching.) As I finished my coffee and set down my book and gazed out at the green a little while ago, I sighed and thought, ah, I could get used to this ... and tried to do some arithmetic to figure out how many years I've got till retirement. Too many. As if I'll ever be able to afford to retire even when I attain the magic age. Regardless, one must live in the now, they tell me, and this now of lovely easy breezy mornings is not something I've got the option of getting used to. No matter. It's been grand.

My cold's easing up too, and so I'll happily venture forth this afternoon on a long-planned outing to the Queens Museum of Art. This is one of my favorite public institutions in the city. It's much much more attuned to contemporary work by artists of diverse nationality than the stodgier, doddery old Manhattan museums. Much more reflective, then, of the wonders of Queens. And it has the Panorama of the City of New York. This is where we -- I'm going with a couple friends, including one lifelong New Yorker, who've never seen it -- are probably going to spend most of our time. The Panorama is a huge scale model of the entire city. When I say entire city, I mean it literally; the Panorama includes every single building in the city, at least up to its last major update in the 90s. It also currently features some kind of marking to show neighborhoods where the mortgage foreclosure crisis has hit hardest, so that should interest and no doubt rile us up.

Before I sign off, a word about the road forward. I expect to return for one or two more posts in the next few days, one about a small press that interests me and possibly another with some links of interest. After that, it's back to work Monday morning--but not back to my old ways. At least, I dearly hope not. Last week I wrote that over the remainder of my vacation I hoped to accomplish some things "in the writing category." What I meant by that rickety locution was that even if I didn't do any writing I wanted to attend to my writerly side, organize, regroup, get my act together. This felt urgent, because I wrote very little over the last year. Because I have a scary birthday less than two weeks away. Because I have tons of unfinished work and one unpublished novel. I have, in other words, much to do, not all that much time left to do it unlike these brilliant youngblood 20- and 30-somethings, and if I want to move forward as a writer I can't let any more days dither away.

I did indeed accomplish something in the writing category. I have a plan, a commitment, energy and ideas. These are the result of a lot of reflection, a lot of looking at my work, a sincere effort to realistically assess all the various relevant realities, and they're also the result of a wonderful two-and-a-half-hour phone conversation with my best writing friend GK. So. I won't bore you with the specifics of the schedule I've crafted, but I will say that the overall approach relies on a reshuffling, or rather a re-recognition, of priorities. I have to maintain at least a minimal level of political activism; that's not ever up for negotiation. I have to work for a wage; sadly, that isn't optional either. Taking those two givens into account, something else had to give in order to free up, or rediscover, my writing self. That something else is reading and blogging.

Which means:
  1. No more coffee and books on weekend, holiday or vacation mornings. Instead I'll be heading right to the keyboard for coffee and writing. I'll still read on the subway to and from work, but on days off I'll limit my reading time to afternoons and evenings. It'll cut into my total intake, but so be it. Do I want to only consume? No, I want to produce.
  2. Less frequent and less extensive blogging. When I started this blog last fall, I intended it to be an occasional, quick, fun diversion for my lunch hour a couple of times a week. Obviously, it turned out to be much more. Fun, yes. Too much fun. Although strictly speaking I have mostly not spent what ought to have been my writing time on the blog, the truth is it has come to occupy too much space in my consciousness and has, I must reluctantly acknowledge, diverted me from writing. I've got to wrench my attention away from the blog and put it back where it belongs, on the blank pages that have been patiently awaiting my return.