Jack sets up a studio at the kitchen island—
Interrupted by Costco deliver. Put everything away. Both babies demand mangos, I honor. Jackie wants to show me the Spider-Man character he’s drawing. I position self to take a picture with my phone but he sharply orders me to do anything but. So note his concentration on the screen, resting the eraser of his pencil under the right corner of his lower lip.
Back at desk, sipping form my first pint of ice-water for the day. Aiming for eight.
House quiet. Jackie at his studio counter, with papers and recent drawings on all sides and in front of the laptop he’s using, and Emmie with her learning program, on the floor with her bowl of mangos.
No idea what to write, so I note that… that feeling, here in a lockdown, shelter in place… and what a shock, Emmie asks for more mangos, ‘PLEASE’, she’s certain she includes. Sure I say, “Thank you” she adds.
Cut up mangos for both. Reading Samantha Irby’s book makes me wonder why I think at all, why do I have trouble writing certain moments, or any time at any point in my life.. just relay what is. Try to do it cleverly or with some angular sharpness or flavor… but relax, enjoy the writing, and the seeming plainness of what you perceive as plain or bland.
Emma announces she has to go potty, I reply “Okay baby…”
I’m making Hulk-Smash! Jack informs.
I want draw Hulk-Smash! Emma echoes.
You can draw with me, Emma… Jack says.
Unexpected harmony in the house.
Emma did you wash your hands? I investigate.
No I don’t need to. She states.
Emma, wash your hands.
She doesn’t say a thing, just washes them. Jack again invites her to draw but I guess she declined without declining as I didn’t hear a response and I ask her if she’s drawing with brother and she just says NO.
She requests more mangos and I tell her no. Then she asks for strawberries and I tell her no just from not wanting to have to wash them and cut them up. Then she asks for an apple.. whole one I ask. NO. Okay… luckily I have that apple cutting ring-thing and can section it easily.
Done cutting apples. Ask her if she can say thank you. And she nods. I laugh a little and come back to the office. Was just thinking how every semester I offer the advice or suggestion to students that there’s no such thing as writer’s block, and how the answer, or at least AN answer is where they are and what they’re doing. And then I think how I seldom stick to my own counsel. I can only find that funny, as I’m a shitty student in my own class.
Thinking less, meddling more in the meta, the immediate images and things, people and voices around you, I say to myself. My kids provide almost too much material, so for me to ever thing I can’t write in a given sitting or I don’t know what direction to take a paragraph… just an excuse. Or maybe not an excuse but I’m not doing my job, as a writer or thinker or human.
Will say I’ll miss this corner when SIP is lifted. Oh my god, I just thought of the reality of not finding a place to sit in that 4th Street sbux in San Rafael, or if there’s that guy who talks at just the right volume to be over my music in ears at coLAB. This desk, my confession booth– No, I don’t like that directive and for obvious optics…. It’s my view, my ROOM. My office, my heart, my bones and where I process the plain… the stage and synchrony of SELF.
No more requests from my customers in the room other. Jack telling me moments ago that he’s much too full to do an apple as Emma does, is….. Me, with two books. If I were to write a book on each… hmmmm… Jack starting when I met him, after nearly passing out in the ER about to cut the umbilical, then officially meeting him when he was under that heating lamp which in the moment reminded me, and still does as I recall it and the heat it spoke, of where one find rotisserie chick in a store like Safeway, or Oliver’s… When he first came home, he slept quite a bit, of course, but as he woke to the world he would just stare at me, I remember, as if to read my lips or study the chromatic architecture of my eye. Never thought about this till now, here quarantined, a turn I didn’t expect, the same way I didn’t expect dad life could mask and ax any sad sight.
And Emma…. Who just informs us she has to go poop, and then again tells Jack….. I’m helpless against any demand she makes, any looks she gives me. When I first met my little poetess, she was asleep, swaddled, and it was like she was drawn, or sculpted. I couldn’t understand her, how perfect she was and how she was ours, she was here, actually here…. Later, when she started to develop personality and expression ability, I just gave up. I’d do whatever she said, example with the mangos and apples, and this morning wanting to only by me be held.
Another sip of the water. Not even 1pm. Am I going to run, or do I wait for the morning, and actually make myself fucking do it. Woke this morning after 8, which is radically rare for this writer…. Someone mowing a lawn. Think our neighbor mowed ours. Again. What a…. no, it was nice, but should I buy a mower? Do I even know how to mow a lawn? You just go back and forth, right? Don’t want the babies to see my unhandiness in cutting fucking grass.
I’M STILL POOPING, Emma curtly notes for us all to note.
K. I’m done…. She adds.