Bring on the Snakes

Always with the words.

I've written a fake Ramones song about my life. It's the most boring of all fake Ramones songs ever:

Read and write!

Read and write!

All day and all night! 

All day and all night!

Read and write!

Read and write!

All day and all night! 

All day and all night!

OK, maybe it's more of a fake Wesley Willis song: Rock over Bookbug! Rock on Kalamazoo! 

In my "regular" life, I process words all the time. Always. NPR while making breakfast, read book or magazine while walking to work, read and write and edit and proof and turn words into fonts and pictures all day, read book or magazine while walking home from work. Then there is the evening time, discussing with Manfriend what I've read and written and edited and proofed and heard in the radio stories. So there is the intake of words, then the processing and repetition, and then later the regurgitation and reiteration. Then there were those days, for a couple of decades, of memorizing and then learning scripts and then rehearsing them and then getting notes from a director and processing those notes, incorporating them into the next day's reading of the script. My days and nights with words.

I took five books and three magazines with me on the road trip. Also a journal. I spent the first three days thinking, I should write. I have so much time to write. I'm sitting here and seeing this stuff and having these conversations and it's all just flying by me and out the window into the clouds above the fields southwest of Grand Forks where it will collect and be distributed somewhere other than in my journal. I should be recording; getting it down. (See all those Shoulds in there?)

Or what? Or it will simply be an awesome vacation during which I rested and engaged fully with the people and the land around me? Somewhere in Montana I discovered that reading and writing on the road would have kept me in that place in which I exist every day. That place in which I take in media, churn it for a while, adopt or disregard it, and lay it back down in some other arrangement.

Don't get me wrong, I dig living in that place. It (mostly) works for me. But this was travel. This was intentionally abandoning my element. I sometimes think that writing allows me to keep the world at arm’s length, scrutinizing and categorizing, rather than feeling. But even if I’m not able to describe what I’m feeling, I’m still feeling it, right? Perhaps more so for not being able to describe it.

I just don’t want to stagnate, see? Stagnation is when that fulgent force begins to flag and I stumble around questioning my worth and the mold and the must begin to collect in all the folds of my life. That’s why we took a road trip. That’s why I camped IN THE PRESENCE OF SNAKES. (OK, snake, singular, but still.) That’s why I ate beet salad and let Manfriend drive me over that stunning, stupefying Beartooth Pass. That’s why I didn’t write on the trip. I had to stay out of my element to kick off the dust. If a tree fell in Yellowstone and I didn’t write about it, it still fell, and I think I can be comfortable with that.

This is not to say I won’t be writing about the trip. I have pages of notes, inscrutable jottings to jog loose an image or conversation, all in early anaphase about to bust out into more and more words amassing into little blog-update colonies. They’re just now starting to bubble up from the soup as I find myself longing to hold on to the trip as it fades into the blur of school schedules and grocery shopping. Because we are home now, and life resumes apace. While the flora and fauna is now more familiar, the flicker of elemental resistance to stagnation remains. Let’s hope I can keep it smoldering.