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Diary of a Long Weekend
CW Lovatt – 16/06/09
Saturday - 6:00 A.M.
Open eyes – check. Take long luxurious stretch and leap out of bed – check. Go to the kitchen and make coffee – check. Feed cat – check. Go to the bathroom and relieve bladder (mental note: improve aim) – check. Wash hands – check. Brush teeth – check. Return to the kitchen and pour coffee – check. Go into the living room and drink coffee – check. Light cigarette and daydream about the decadent luxury of having absolutely nothing better to do all this gorgeous long weekend but work on your writing (Far out! Hallelujah! Totally right on!) – double check!
Oh yeah baby, this is gonna be so cool! It’s been a long time coming, but at last the waiting’s over. It feels like Christmas morning, and there’s this gorgeously wrapped gift with my name on it, looking just the perfect size to hold a Macintosh laptop with, like, a gazillion bytes of RAM. – that’s how mind-blowingly excited I am!
Hold on! Hold on! Don’t burst out of the starting gate just yet. Pace yourself, my friend. Take it easy…take it cool.
I try to force myself not to gulp my coffee, but sip it instead. Too much time’s been spent planning; I don’t want to squander this rare opportunity in one crazy burst of enthusiasm.
Don’t let it get to you. Don’t let anything get to you. This is your time, don’t screw it up!
But of course the java ends up being guzzled all the same. At last, when the mug’s empty I rinse it out and, with a book this time, re-enter the bathroom so that my body might…do whatever it feels it must.
Don’t let yourself get too involved in reading; just a couple of pages to keep your mind off things. Whatever you do, don’t think about what you’re going to write – that’s major taboo. It’ll be good. Hell, it’ll be great. Forget that, it’ll knock the world on its literary-fucking-ass!
Finish up. Flush. Re-wash hands (thoroughly).
At last, go to the study and fire up the computer!
I click on ‘Word’ and a virgin screen appears, virtually bursting with potential.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
This is not the sound of typing, but the sound of a contemplative fingernail rapping against my teeth. The virgin screen has yet to be deflowered.
Okay, don’t panic. This is going to be good. In fact, it’s going to be outrageously fantastic…whatever it turns out to be.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
I click on my ‘Ideas’ file.
But that’s impossible! I’ve been overflowing with ideas for months now!
Didn’t you write any of them down?
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
I spring out of my chair and grab my yo-yo off the desk. The distraction helps me think.
Flip – catch. Flip – catch. Flip –
Bonehead, my orange tabby, sees the yo-yo. He wants to play and knocks it for a loop. I drag it along the floor for him to bat around, but he’s already lost interest.
I return to the computer only to spring up yet again. I’m too excited. No, that’s not it. In my eagerness, I either drank my coffee far too quickly, or made it way too strong. Now my heart’s thundering away at something like eight hundred beats a minute. Any fool can see it’s impossible to write under these conditions. I need something to slow it down.
I check the time – 6:30 A.M. I’m not ordinarily a morning imbiber, but this is an emergency. I go to the liquor cabinet and let my eyes play over the bottles. No use messing around, I need something with some punch.
The fire from a short, medicinal shot of mescal dissipates before it’s halfway to my stomach. A minute passes in consideration. My pulse is still going great guns so I pour myself another. Two or three later, it finally strikes home. Almost at once the thunder begins to subside.
Congratulating myself on having averted disaster, I try to get back to work, but now my mind feels confused - ditto my vision. The room starts to heave around like a ship on the high seas.
Damn! Overdid it. Best take a break…maybe a nap.
I return to my bed and lie down, staring at the ceiling while it spins around my head. Half an hour later it stops, but I’m still staring. It’s no use, can’t sleep; might as well watch some television. I go downstairs and turn on the set, but there’s nothing worth watching this early in the morning.
So I flip to ‘Pay Per Vu’.
There’s a movie I’ve been wanting to see for quite some time. It’s just the distraction that’s needed, and well worth the price of seven dollars.
Within minutes of it starting I’m deep in slumber.
When I wake up it’s two in the afternoon. Groggy now, I turn off the blank screen, go the bathroom, splash cold water on my face, and get back to my desk.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap.
It’s no good; my mind’s still blank, probably worn out from work. I’d been driving myself pretty hard to be free this weekend, but of course there’s a price to be paid. Stupid to think I could just start in like this.
Never mind. Try not to be disappointed - it takes time for the juices to flow. Tomorrow’s sure to be better.
I switch off and call it a day.
Sunday – 10:45 A.M.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...
So, what’s it going to be? Short story? Novella?
Don’t worry about that – no use forcing it. How many times do I have to tell you? Better to let it write itself.
But should it be drama? Romance? Tragedy? Comedy? I’ve never written a comedy, yet I feel there’s one in me that’s just itching to get out, just not at this moment.
Whatever it is, make sure it has legs - you don’t want to get bored - and there has to be a catalyst, some sort of great thought binding it all together.
Okay sure, a great thought, no problem…coming right up.
My stomach growls.
Of course! I’m hungry! How can anyone concentrate on an empty stomach?
But it’s midway between breakfast and lunch. I’ll just have to wait.
What am I thinking? I’m a bachelor; I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want – in my underwear if it suits me. I look down and realize I am, in fact, still in my underwear – yesterday’s underwear, come to that.
When was the last time you had a bath?
Must have been Friday after work.
By the time I’m out of the shower and have a three-egg omelet tucked inside me it’s well past noon.
When I try to put my dirty dish in the sink, I’m forced to notice that it’s already full of dirty dishes. So is the top of the stove and most of the counter.
I hate washing dishes, but unless eating off the floor’s an option, I’ll just have to break down and do them.
Ha! Ha! Very funny! Eat off the floor, that’s a good one!
Hopefully, I look down at the floor.
Grease, dirt, old sauce stains, a forest of dust balls, and something I don’t quite recognize stare back at me.
When was the last time you washed the floor?
Dunno…sometime last fall?
I hate washing floors.
Well, in for a penny...
I run hot water in the sink and add a generous amount of detergent. While the water’s running, I step out on the deck for some fresh air; then to achieve balance, smoke a cigarette.
During the interlude I give thought to my imminent blockbuster. Should I write it in the first or third person, or should I come up with something completely different – something no one’s ever tried before?
Forget that, that’s just crazy!
Should it be about world peace? The rights of man? Both?
What do you actually know about any of that stuff?
When I come back inside, the sink is well and truly overflowing. A mountain of suds is cascading down the face of the cupboard and spreading itself generously over the floor. I get out the mop, then shut off the water and begin to swab the linoleum. Soon it’s sparkling, good as new. So are the basement stairs, and a sizeable portion of the basement itself.
Leaving the dishes to soak, I go back to my study.
Tap, tap, tap, tap, tap...
Significantly, my teeth do double-time to the ticking of the clock on the wall.
In desperation, I flip to my old stories file. Perhaps inspiration lurks there.
They’re pretty good, I have to admit it. In fact, as I affectionately linger over one cherished piece after another, I idle away the rest of the afternoon adoring my past work.
Finally hunger drives me out. I go into the kitchen to fix something to eat, and notice the forgotten dishes in the sink - the water long since cold.
Two days gone and nothing to show.
Monday – 11:00 A.M.
I’m downstairs playing Risk on my Play Station. I don’t like games that demand quick reflexes. I like Risk, all you need is savvy. But I’ve played this game so many times it’s no longer a challenge.
I hate challenges – I like to win, and have no problem if it’s preordained.
I’m feeling bloody-minded. I haven’t gone near the computer, nor do I have plans on doing so for the rest of my life.
I’m through, done, washed-up. This was the first thought to greet me when I opened my eyes this morning, and it stuck. I don’t know why I ever thought I could write in the first place, let alone create an epic.
Maybe I had something once but it’s gone now, that’s for sure. It stole away in the night, leaving me a worn out husk [-of depression]. I try not to feel self-pity, but it sucks to be a has-been-that-never-was. My friends have all gone to the lake this weekend. They’re drinking beer and hitting on girls in bikinis. But in my conceit I chose to stay home, convinced that it would be for the benefit of a grateful world.
God, I’m a fool! I’m nothing - just a pathetic joke!
But I’ve learned my lesson. If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that I will never, ever, ever write again. Finally I understand how incredibly vain it was to think that I ever could.
With my mind not really anywhere, I play my turn then press the ‘X’ button repeatedly while the machine finishes the round. The futility of any meaning does not escape me (compared to hitting on girls in bikinis, this must come a poor second). Neither am I blind to the metaphor between the game and myself. When all is said and done, we’re both nothing but fraudulent packages without anything of substance or value inside.
Yet, in a way, I’m relieved; now shorn of that deluded ambition, I’ve been set free. In one decisive act that millstone has been effectively cast from my neck. In fact, I’m a new man, tolerably hopeful that all sorts of exciting new possibilities lie waiting, hidden somewhere in the impenetrable fog of the far distant future.
Then suddenly, for no discernable reason, my thumb freezes on the control, my head tilting to one side as though listening to a far away sound.
On the ceiling, a moth dances at the light, casting flittering shadows across the room.
Then I’m thundering up the stairs. There’s a close call when Bonehead saunters across my path, but I manage to leap over him without any harm.
I’m at the computer.
There’s a tentative tap, then another, and - more quickly - another. Soon there’s a flurry.
Then, as though all this time there’s been a part of me waiting by the side of this forgotten road, something comes along…and takes me.
At last, when the present reclaims me, it’s dark outside, and the monitor’s screen is full.
For a long time I sit in silence, listening to the rhythm of my heart, uncertain as to whether this is the world of the day-to-day or still that of dreams; even more uncertain as to which is real. Finally my head clears sufficiently for me to click on ‘Save’ and switch off, not noticing how my movements are wooden, like a marionette in the hands of a novice puppeteer.
It’s late, but there’s no use trying to sleep. Instead, still wrapped in afterglow, I feel the need for quiet celebration, so take a glass of merlot out to the deck.
There’s a chill in the air but I don’t feel it. What I do feel is the pulsating ache in my lower back and the thrill of memory. But these sensations are old and ghostly familiar, and so, welcome.
There’s a full moon on the rise, flooding the world with a silver hue. The residue of what took me is causing muscles to leap and twitch throughout my body.
I raise my glass.
To the moon I simply nod a greeting, and whisper a single word: a deeply satisfied, “Yes!”
But I’m trembling too much. Wine spills from the glass, soaking my fingers before spattering down onto the weathered planks of the deck.
Black in the moonlight, I stare at the droplets, yet make no move to wipe them away. In the fading dregs of trance, I see them for what they are…a libation, an offering of gratitude to the ethereal.
Then, just like a little child, I burst into tears.
CW Lovatt – 16/06/09