Thursday, August 04, 2005

Let's try it this way.

When I stepped out into the hot hot sun after work the other day, two co-workers were walking out with me. One of them said about her car, "Shit, like I want to get in that fuckin' rust-bucket with no air conditioning?"

Sometimes, hearing words is like eating a taco. It's like my brain is eating a taco. The sonorous sounds of the words as they rhymed off her tongue caught me upside the ear. Uck-ust-uck, mmm, my brain *crunches* right down on those sounds and likes them. I rolled her words around in my head all the way to the car, and then some more on the drive home. Crunchy on the outside, gooey and delicious on the inside.

My brain is so full of words these past few days that it's no wonder they're affecting me in strange ways. I am reading, reading, reading, and copyediting, proofing, copyediting. I am taking written words and making them better. I am fixing broken words. I am the word doctor.

I took this picture at my parents' house the other night, before the indexing madness began. This is a small statue my mother has in her front yard. It's nothing special when you look at it from your standing height. It's just a small chunk of plastery, plasticky, tacky stuff you buy at Pottery Barn, or wherever women shop for such things. But there is this certain angle you can look at this chunky plastic at that makes it something more than Pottery Barn cultural driftwood. What is it about statues? If I were a small organism, I'd curl up in the plastic folds of hair, in the fake feathers, in the crevices of her lips. The weathered bits of her are fleshy and real. I have done all manner of random crap this week, running around doing the things I call "living," going to work, doing chores, writing a book index, taking care of the dogs--and the statue is just where I left her. Since I took her picture, she's been gazing wordlessly out at the street, seeing nothing, not moving, maybe becoming warmer and cooler with the rising and setting of the sun, changing in appearance but not nature as the sun and shadows move over her. If I could affix my mind to a still object, and leave it there and go lie down and have some sleep, I'd hook it in her.

I haven't been able to sleep much this week. My mind is so engaged by the work I'm doing that when it stops doing the work, the backlog of thoughts I ought to be having, the mundane, everyday thoughts, flood through it and make sleep impossible. I think about the dust on my dashboard, and I look at the clock. 1:20. I think about the vacuuming that needs to happen, and I look at the clock. 1:50. I think about what to pack for this weekend trip, and it's 2:23. And so on.

When I first started proofreading I was caught off guard by how intensely my mind would focus on the work, and how time would cease to have meaning. I would leave myself while I proofed, and when I came back, I was somebody different, sometimes. After time, I developed a way to think two thought paths at one time; I could think about a story I was trying or planning to write, or what I needed to do when I got home, and proof versatile solutions for modern living--all at once. Then, after more time, I realized this ability would come and go without my being able to control it. This week, I can only think about one thing at a time. I can only think about what I'm doing.

When I was driving home from work this evening, twice I thought I was going to wreck into the car in front of me. My own driving felt out of control. I couldn't think about it and do it at the same time. When I tried to back my thoughts up off my driving, I realized I was nowhere near the cars I thought I was going to hit.

I have got to go to bed. I have to get some sleep.

6 Comments:

At August 05, 2005 3:20 AM, Blogger Mr. Brightside said...

I'm digging that picture. Who knew Pottery Barn could be so gothic?

I know what you mean about not being able to sleep when your mind is occupied. It's like the mind keeps going and doesn't want to shut down.

 
At August 05, 2005 8:12 AM, Blogger greg said...

j, i can identify to a degree. my first year in law school involved reading pages and pages of appeals decisions...that's what the case books are full of...supposedly you learn how to think like a lawyer and learn how to recognize the use of precedent and understand the arguments and the rationale for the court's decision. well, judges are the worst writers on the face of the planet...you could read a 40 page decision and when you got to the end, you realized you had no idea what you had just read. first it was so incredibly boring that you had to pin your eyelids up to keep from falling asleep and (believe me this happened a zillion times) after reading 39 pages which lead you to believe that the court was going to rule for the plaintiff, in the last paragraph they would compleletly flip-flop and rule for the defendant. oh, how they could have used an editor. amazingly, whenever i work on an appeal now, i find the exact same thing...astounding, apparently the ability to write in a logical and coherent manner doesn't apply to judges. rest your eyes, my friend.

 
At August 05, 2005 11:42 AM, Anonymous Jenelle said...

If ever, you find the secret to turning off the brain during times like these...pass it on! I am going through the same stinkin' crapola. Worry, worry, worry. It wreaks havoc on my complexion! Hang in there. This too, shall pass :)

 
At August 05, 2005 5:43 PM, Blogger Dr. Charles said...

the taco crunching analogy is wildly original, i love it! you have such a unique writer's view of the world as evidenced by the statue. have a great weekend wakeboarding, water sounds perfect right now (97 degrees)

 
At August 05, 2005 11:53 PM, Blogger deputyswife said...

I was going to say you need a break, but now I see you are going to take one. HAVE FUN!

Once again, another great photo!

 
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