There was a moment, where i glibly said, i could write anytime, about anything. A moment of euphoria where i felt like i could sit down at a keyboard and produce something salable on demand. It was a point where i believed I’d moved past the point of struggles – where i didn’t understand the purpose of words, where there was no flow, no rhythm – there was always emotion – where i considered the doldrums had been escaped. Doldrums: There have been times where nothing is being written, where attempts at it fail, where there is an anxiety that i never can, again.
I had also reached a point where writing was just a drink i poured myself: Where rational expectations settled with the words shared by the immeasurable Kent Taylor: Stones in ponds, and bubbles. It’s a rarified few can make anything of it.
I thought I’d come to a place where all of that had settled. And maybe it’s just falling back into where i’ve always been – or, maybe it’s because i did something stupid.
My Pistons. A Piston once, and I’ll always be a fan of them: Root for players across the league that have stopped through here. But a thing happened, where i started feeling fairly confident about existing with the general population. After all, we’d been told, you get your shots, you get your booster, ya keep a distance – you should be good to go again. So it goes: I’m walking away from the car and say, “I forgot my mask. Do we need a mask?”
Yes, is the answer.
The Pistons have been on a rebuilding streak for a couple years. Consequently, the crowds at the games have been fairly small. When i asked the question, i expected that to be the same. However, it was not: Stadium was packed. Further, we’d gone down there as part of the youngest’s birthday celebration. So, after, we got the opportunity to stand in line – packed in line, with coughing crowd – to take a free throw on the court. To put hands on a basketball handled by many others.
As an hilarious aside, I feel like i can at least hit rim, when taking free throws. I watched person after person launch an airball before walking confidently to the line. I bounced the ball a couple times like you’ve gotta do. I raised the ball, and armed the shot – and sent it wide. It was an unrealized omen.
Was this version of covid mild? A couple days were miserable. Some of us were on our hands and knees with vertigo.
I discovered, after i’d more or less recovered, that I’d lost my sense of taste, outside of sweets and vinegar. I discovered this, because we ordered Thai food and it tasted bland. It wasn’t ’til the next day that i realized why: I couldn’t taste herbs and spices, and I couldn’t taste – salt. I’m not a big sweets guy, so i spent the following few days dousing everything in vinegar.
I am a salt fiend, which i understand isn’t a healthy pursuit. But salt makes everything so much better. I love earthy flavors, but adding salt to them makes them so much better.
Taste has mostly returned, but my sense of smell remains reduced significantly: as on, the order of 95%. I only get wafts of aroma, and only if they’re potent.
My brain has been a bit moldy since this experience. I attempted to flesh out something that’s been rolling through the head, a while, and it seems like those things that do, never roll into something bigger. But i tried to tie it to a dream i had, i tried to make it part of a larger story, and i even started writing: It was like pushing water back from the shore – hopeless. It was drudging a vehicle through the mud to only get stuck three feet further. I think a chapter exists. That it took the exorbitant time it did to accomplish that, was understood as that was done and it wasn’t going anywhere.
Also, I hated the story.
I’ve been trying to break away from themes and inclination – bents – for… Decades. I always look back and see i did – that – again. I’ve been sort of successful a few times, for different reasons, but after fuzzy-covid brain, i decided i should try default mode, and wallow in the worst of my proclivities.
As it turned out, those leanings apparently prefer less focused intent. That is, i recognized what a miserable, uninspiring story I’d sketched out. At that point – as i’ve felt many times before – it felt like i would never write again.
But there’s an itch, a wish, a hope; a desire that i can: I remember how much enjoyment i took from writing. At one point, i even came to enjoy the editing process, but i’m over that.
I usually break through the dam by blogging. But i’ve felt the blog was a dead fish for a while, and nothing much wound up striking inspiration.
One thing i’ve learned, is that it’s no fun trying to force the issue, so time’s been spent with other diversions – until reading something about bringing something to a knife fight, as (here we are, back at Dull Harbor, again) Russia prepared to commit atrocities against the Ukraine. At that moment, there was hope it wouldn’t come to what it did – and there was the thought that started musing: It’s never a good idea to get into a knife fight.
The first couple of chapters are fine, but they’re just laying landscape, and there’s no story. I had something rattlin’ around about a knife fight and started riffing on, and the first thought was to follow Guy’s unconscious exploits – which, might have been fun to explore. But then we got to chapter two and started to know some of the characters: Specifically, Dr. Quintz, and especially Josti. By the end of two, I knew how three was starting and the rest of it more or less began falling into place.
That it somehow stretched to 20,000 words it outstanding, because driving back from Idaho was all uphill, and it didn’t look like the road was stretching very far. At six though, Trompain and Doelly arrived to share their observations, and it still felt like the ending wasn’t far. After ten, there were a couple points where the juices started flowing, and i felt like i could write again.
The line between alive and dead is generally not that difficult to determine, however that distinction grows murkier for those that fall unconscious. As a hospice aide, Jos came to feel like she could call the difference. But a couple years after caring for a patient on the wrong side of alive, she found herself thinking the same questions she’d always dismissed.