I Got Ants in My Pants and I Want to Dance

It’s time to write a little reminder note to myself to remember to watch my two children walk across the fresh-cut lawn in bare feet.

When I read interviews with writers bitching about how hard it is to write, rewrite, how the writing profession is like some kind of density of misery with no space for relief, I wonder what’s the point of writing if all it ever does is make you feel bad, bad about it, as well as put a bad taste in your mouth.

Today I overhead 2 people reminiscing about their youth. Remember when we….Remember how we…. Remember that girl who lived in the next town…. Remember those fantastic empty relationships with anything or anyone…. We drank so hard, I remember nothing….

I wouldn’t go back to those days if you paid me.

I just finished Edward Carey’s amazing Observatory Mansions. It is one of the best books I’ve read in a long time. Pithy, clever, unusually constructed, non-linear, comic, dark, depressing, bathetic, easy on the pathos, not trite with honesty, and wholly human in its depiction of fictional characters. I loved Francis Orme for his wickedness and his compassion for saving his dead brother’s remains. I have already requested his novel Alva and Irva from the library and look forward to reading his YA novel Heap House set to come out in September.

Last night I pitched our tent in the back garden as a way to get away. And next week, I’ve booked a 2-day camping adventure for my family at Lake St. George. We haven’t gone anywhere in years. Not since the children arrived with their soft toys. Sometimes I tell my wife, let’s pack our portmanteaux and move to Normandy. I could teach English to existential street kids. But we have no savings. And my wife doesn’t speak French. Neither do I, but that wouldn’t stop me.

It’s raining here in Maine. Grey sky like liver and clouds like onions.

I must go and clean my house. I never knew household chores could be such work. I think I was swapped at birth with a working-class baby. I want a castle, no disposable income, and some national trust to turn my castle into a tourist attraction while my family and I live in 10 rooms and I proudly state that all I can do is write, stoke the fire, catalog the inherited treasures, and never get involved with casual work.

Here’s some Iggy. And if this song doesn’t make you dance wildly, then you really have no lust for life. And shame on you.


The Great Leap Forward

It’s been scorching in Maine the last 2 days, air like a rattled tiger, sun like a gangster with too much hubris.

I can’t write in the heat. So my family and I drove to Lake St. George and swam, lounged, and grilled spicy veggie burgers. I suppose I could have sat in my closet (this is where I write) in nothing but a loincloth, but that’s too devout for me. “Life is a process to be experienced, not an object to be coveted.”

Today’s overcast, with that maggoty white sky and a haze like a weeping gauze, and I’m back to the writing. Sort of. It’s more like mowing the grass without the bag on and letting the clippings fly.

And fuck if I’m not in a funk. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s my mood, maybe it’s the size of Roget’s International Thesaurus that seems to hold more words than I can ever hope to.

As a child in Wales, I used to have this recurring dream. My grandparents lived in a council house on this long stretchy street, all of the houses joined at the hip, and neat, or sometimes overgrown, narrow gardens of equal size out the back that were separated by a wall. Most days there was laundry flying high and dogs barking. Well, in my dream, I would always climb onto the roof of my grandparents’ house and like a Puck, who didn’t know he was a Puck, I’d jump from roof to roof, sometimes disturbing the roosting chimney sweeps (remember, this was a dream) and have to sneak past the crows dressed in busbies and carrying muskrats and occasionally interrupting Mr. Parry and Mrs. Jones joined at the lips and ascending into the heavens, Mr. Parry’s suspenders attached to the rising moon.

And where was I going? Anywhere, nowhere, I didn’t care. I just wanted to live out a life, even a make-believe one, above the mundane. Even in my dreams, somebody would wake, open a window, pop their head out, and shout, “Keep off the Roof! You’ll ruin the flowers of youth with all your mad running about.”

It never stopped me. I’d race on and on, the end of the street nowhere in sight, the candle in my hand with the nervy flame whispering words as the empty smoke from all the houses drifted off across the sea.

I never got to the end of my street in my dreams. But that was never the point.

I don’t dream of running across roofs now. Maybe because where I live there are no connecting houses, just the uneasy masts of trees and the moon that’s too small for a sail. I sometimes dream of lifting the house I live in up on my shoulders and striding like Bendigeidfran (Bran the Blessed) across Penobscot Bay and out to sea, dolphins jumping at my side and my two girls waving to them and my wife at an open window, the wind playing in her hair.

If I ever really spent some time thinking about these dreams. I might come up with something about myself. But I think I already know what it is.

Maybe that’s why I always won’t settle for what comes easy. Maybe that’s why I have scribbled on the soles of so many of my shoes my own simple magic that wants to live a livid life, a life that is a great leap forward into something extraordinary. A life like a row of roofs on a long stretchy street with no end in sight where I can always run.

Here’s some classic Bragg.