you can find them in the oddest places

August 23, 2009 at 9:56 pm (travel)

i did a writing workshop in copenhagen and ended up reading out one of my pieces to an audience. i think i probably rushed it as usual, but the people who assured me they’d gesture if i needed to be louder or softer or slower didn’t, so i guess it was ok. it seemed well received, at the start of an odd program of readings, performances and bands. the piece itself was ten minutes, i think, of continuous writing prompted by the title, which was a line chosen out of a previous exercise. then i had a couple of hours to try to edit it and write it out, while rushing around and doing other things like watching a film in a dark room. here it is.

you can find them in the oddest places.

Frogs. Happiness, or moments thereof. Places you’ll remember forever, and always think of when you need a bottle of latex, or go round a certain shaped curve in the road, bending through the trees just so.
Take as I find. The impulse to write. Maybe it won’t stay but maybe it will, maybe it will change and become the structure for something more useful. Because I’m not sure that compulsive writing is useful, even if the ability to write is. Notebooks to my specifications are available in some countries but not others. The books I currently require in order to feed my habit are A4, stapled, lined, margined. It was not always so. To record the threads of interpersonal relationships and try to weave some sense of my place in the social world required blank A5 pages with a satisfying weight, even spiral binding and – it turned out – a resilient, bright yellow plastic cover. Before that, any attempt to spill onto paper or record my movements were densely written on loose leaf A4 photocopy paper, both sides, often wound around the thick block characters of a hitching sign; or, even denser and likely in pencil, in margins of other work, on the backs of envelopes or even bus tickets. My elegant notebooks sat at home unused, scaring the writing out of me any time I would turn than first, blank page. But this, this worked; something connected and felt tip pen met lined paper 213 pages ago. A field full of daisies, Macedonian food by the side of the truck then gorging on forced cherries in the cool room on a hot day, the circular stairs up a four floor op shop, zig zag edges revealed. Scenes from a life that is mine when I’m here, but may not have been once I got home, but that they are recorded here, made real and thus also lodged, legitimately in my brain. That the only street sign I found in Skopje directs one to one street, one bridge and a gynaecological clinic is not a dream, though having to kill people for some important reason is, and I know that it was brought on by someone coming into my room and cleaning and tying up my toilet. Reality really is stranger than fiction; how would I ever make a story of this material? Being grateful for my life that I escaped Italy, the subtle feeling of wearing my first beard, as ephemeral, more intentionally, than my bowtie that is really, probably, gone; will it have the same eventual impact on my psyche? Translating Slovenian poetry without knowing the language, sliding through Austria on so much goodwill that I barely saw the country. Recovering five-year-stolen bags and running down a Czech highway through the pelting rain with them, broken shoes and pants dumpstered in Montenegro.
Soon, too soon I will take my lined, stapled, A4 notebooks home and make a new stationary choice for a new sheet of life.


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