Rendered Fat Content


I swear I could spend most of my days roaming around in my head. Well, I do spend many of my days there. In the East, especially in the sweltering summertime, head space seems far preferable to anyplace outside. There, the sun rises and sets like a wet blanket, varying only by the smallest degree between morning, noon, and twilight. That sun slinks through his days, and I seem to slink right along with him.

Here, I set the alarm for four am, as if anticipating some grand performance. I sit on my brother’s patio, scanning the brightening eastern horizon with a child’s enthusiasm, and the sunrise performs entrancing magic tricks. Of course my brain’s clicking away all the while, but engaging with that world rather than disengaged with it.

Someone asked me what I do, and I heard myself explain that I’m a writer, and I suppose that response wasn’t entirely fictional. I do write, though I spend much more time thinking. I mull over, under, and inside-out before I write, and what I do isn’t so very much different from waiting for an infrequent bus. When the bus finally arrives, I write like I’m riding a welcomed bus, glancing out the window as it stops to disgorge and acquire new passengers. These rides seem shorter than they are, much shorter than the waits beforehand, and inevitably drop me in some new neighborhood; someplace I’ve not been before.

I can go many days between anything more than a short pleasantry passed between anyone else but The Muse, and even my conversations with her mostly trend toward the utilitarian. Shifting out of my headspace seems nearly impossible sometimes, and I often orient myself in space and time with little more than insults thrown at the cats, who are largely innocent of the expletives I toss their way when dispensing kitty treats. Hairball! Dweeb-face! These seem the best my head can muster, interaction-wise.

I’ve spent the week out there, mostly laboring with my hands rather than with my head. I’ve been listening to the monologue I engage in there—my self-talk and my soundtrack—and notice that my headwork continues uninterrupted even when I’m engaged elbow-deep out there. I sometimes ... well, often ... feel as though I should focus on my headwork to the exclusion of handwork, as if dirty fingernails might disable my writing thumbs or thinking fingers, but they do not. Quite, apparently, the opposite. This fuller engagement seems to enhance the headwork rather than distract from it.

The proper response when someone asks me what I do might be ‘everything’, though I often limit my appreciation to only a small subset of everything, like writing, or thinking, or waiting for some infrequent bus. No part of my experience really qualifies as me, and I suppose I diminish myself when I describe myself in such limited pieces. Descarte was more fool than wise philosopher when he proclaimed, “I think, therefore I am.” Thinking ain’t the half of it, buddy. Thinking ain’t much without some accompanying hand jive, and hand jive just don’t properly syncopate without some soundtrack cycling around inside the head.

I am digging in dirt, my dirt, while waiting for an infrequent bus, where I will scribble while glancing out at the world passing by. Me? I’m in the headwork business and the handiwork trade, swapping even these days for something left scribbled on some page.

©2014 by David A. Schmaltz - all rights reserved

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