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synopsis

Some time ago, Charles' handyman father gave us this large flat wooden storage contraption that he had built himself. Exactly the kind of thing I would build myself if I had any idea how to do it. It's on wheels and it fits just under the queen-sized bed in our bedroom. He had suggested that we use it to store extra clothes, shoes, that sort of thing.

For months the wooden contraption has contained piles upon piles of my old writings from childhood to now- notebooks, binders, journals, loose papers of all colors and sizes, manila folders, small boxes, and plastic rubber-banded containers full of thoughts and stories and drawings and letters and ideas and the occasional math equation from an old class. I had tossed, crammed, and shoved all of it onto the wooden contraption and rolled it under the bed, attempting to forget all about it until I had time and energy to do otherwise.

I've thought of it every single night. Because every single night I sleep in that bed, literally sitting on top of the best ideas I've (n)ever had throughout my life.

I rolled the wooden contraption out from under the bed last night- tentatively, and not all the way. The corner I had revealed was daunting all on its own. I didn't really need to see the whole thing.
I had forgotten how much of myself was tucked away like this.
I selected two old drawing pads (the kind with pockets between not-so blank pages, each pocket was stuffed with various bits of paper with scribbles on them), and one thick white binder that apparently had not ever been used to "bind" anything. I held the bundle carefully so nothing would fall on top of the nosey cat's head, using my big toe to roll the wooden contraption back under the bed to avoid stubbing toes later.

I couldn't believe that I had ever been so passionately... creative. Well, I could believe it. I had simply forgotten about it in light of more important things in life.

None of the writing was particularly good, barely publishable if at all. The drawings/paintings made no sense whatsoever, not that I needed them to. They simply were what they were. I could see lines of thought one after the other- I like unlined paper and drawing pads so I can write in whatever form I wish, sometimes upside down or in circles, or occasionally breaking off mid-thought to doodle absently. My imagination dislikes jail bars. Of course, my anal retentive side loves lined paper for some things. Thought organization is vital.
And it was just a very small portion of the stacks of yellowed pages under the bed. Unfinished projects, unsent letters, drawings of my carefree lunatic of a former self.

I've been in that mood lately.
In fact, last Sunday I took Charles on a tour of LSU. I always thought the campus was beautiful- with the gnarled trees and artsy buildings. We retraced the steps I took day after day those years ago, rushing to this class or that class, or traipsing gleefully through the quad after discovering a class had been canceled. THAT was freedom.
I spent an unreasonable amount of time in the library, back then. Sunday I took some crappy pictures and I smelled the familiar smells- ignoring the post-game day scent of stale beer and asshole.

I felt like a ghost. Like I was in some place I shouldn't be anymore.
But I also felt something twitch in my brain, something that knew damn well there was a time in my life where I had been bursting at the seams with creative energy. Some of it was forced, like writing a story for a class and a grade. But a lot of it wasn't. I was in an atmosphere that encouraged you to let loose on every creative whim you had, and so I did. Mostly.

Now, I'm not saying I need college to be creative and write again. I was doing all that before I even hit high school. Which, by the way, I also found things I had written in the third grade, seventh, the summers, high school, and community college.

My entire life is under that bed, whether or not I had intended to actually document and restore it all. I never threw that stuff away. I never once had any inclination to. God knows I've thrown all sorts of other crap away. I've been moving around my entire life, sometimes you just gotta shed a little weight here and there. This stuff has gone from attic to attic, storage box to box.

And there's a reason for it.

Comments

( 2 little wonders — Say Something )
dragonflylsu
Nov. 20th, 2009 05:43 am (UTC)
i still have some of your letters and art stuff that consisted of notes and doodles and song lyrics and such.
of course you kept all that stuff.
doubtful_salmon
Nov. 30th, 2009 03:10 am (UTC)
Did I ever tell you about all those pictures I took at LSU? I used them for a project where I decided to force a bizarre narrative in which some kind of bizarro apocalyptic event had happened, so serious that everything was left where it was when it happened. I just remember I had a picture of the art building where there was a sign that says "art building" and my photo professor was like, "You shouldn't have included that picture because that makes it seem like you took all these pictures on a college campus," which I thought was hilarious because I DID take all of those pictures on a college campus so it had never occurred to me that this one seemed more college-like than all the rest. Every single picture I used for that assignment I took at LSU. I don't think that anyone believed me...which I guess goes to show how crazy fucking awesome that campus is. If they'd had an actual film or TV program I'd've gone there in a heartbeat. I still don't understand why they don't because Louisiana offers great incentives and a lot more has been shot there in the last few years. It seems like it might be productive to educate more in-state talent, especially, although I can see why they didn't see it coming, given the southern gothic/vampire craze. Wow, I'm such a nerd.

I think in a fit of self-loathing I threw away most of what I had written at some point, although I still maintain that this is for the better. I don't, for the most part, feel sad about it, because I've never been able to read anything I wrote prior to 9th grade without feeling appalled by my own stupidity. Even in the last eight years there are still very few things I've written that I can look at again and enjoy. Christ, I find things I wrote last week and feel embarrassed. True story. I guess this would explain why I haven't been able to write shit in the last few years...because I'm so full of self-hatred that I delete it all before I get anywhere. So I consider it lucky that I figured out that this was exactly the right time to attempt stand-up comedy...because, according to Janeane Garofalo at least, stand-up comedians are all full of self-loathing. I really do think that this is sheer luck and great timing, though, because it is totally exactly the change I need, whether or not people laugh at my show soon (auuuugh), and has prevented me from the suicidal inclinations I get when I feel like my brain has atrophied from disuse. Maybe suicidal is the wrong word, but I think it's like Emma Thompson in Stranger than Fiction...I'm bound to try standing on the ledge of a very tall building trying to come up with an idea even if I have no intention of jumping. (If New York is good for one thing, it's jump spots...)
( 2 little wonders — Say Something )