Thursday, May 18, 2006


I am up late again, working on my customary abnormal timeframe. Rain crackles against the four windowpanes of my office and I can just hear the semi-rhythmic rush of water through the gutters and into our graded yard. Thunder crawls across lower pitches, sustaining itself into a long rest that fills with epileptic flashes of lightening.

Today, I feel as though little was accomplished. I ate. The dogs did not kill each other, and as far as I know, anything else. My wife still loves me. I trimmed my goatee for the first time in several months, and I am currently waiting for clippers that can’t hold a charge, so I can finish shaving my head. At the moment, I look something like those awful caricatures of samurai who never existed, except in an arcade game. Of course, I don’t have a sword. Or armor. Or even a fan embossed with bamboo. I simply have too much hair.

This afternoon, when—against reason—the sun made an appearance without the familiar escort of cumulonimbus clouds, I did sit outside with my laptop watching the dogs sprint through grasses, lilies, and ivy, lock together like Greco-roman wrestlers, dig at the root system of a honeysuckle shrub, and sprawl in patches of slightly yellow grass, clutching a tennis ball between their paws and their teeth. In approximately two hours of watching them scavenge and frolic around the yard, I managed to write about one page of fiction—a page that will doubtless need to be reworked a six or seven times for it to see anyone’s eyes other than those of my wife.

When my wife returned home, I spent most of the evening relaxing with her on the sofa—both of us warmed ever so slightly by the stirring of sleeping puppies beside us. One show after another flickered across the screen, and I found myself, now and again, closing my eyes, almost drifting to sleep. Part of me thinks that I should have seized the opportunity that sleeping puppies presents and wondered into my office to do one of the myriad writing tasks I contemplate each day. I could have worked on this project. I could have added to that growing document. I could have sifted through drafts of poems, slashing the occasional article or prepositional phrase. I even could have drafted a long-shot of a query letter for Sports Illustrated. Instead, I sat on the sofa feeling sleepy and content.

Now, as, technically, a new day begins, I think it would be easy for me to regret how this day has unfolded or even lament the lack of progress I’ve made toward personal goals, but such a quotidian keen over my expectations would leave me with nothing more than an ache in my hands from ringing them too much or perhaps a higher probability of actually developing one intestinal disorder or another. Instead, I’m choosing to accept the moment. Right now, my hands are jittering across a keypad, wrangling stray thoughts that could, just as easily, never be captured. Right now, I am waiting to finish shaving my head.

After all, why set goals that are unattainable? Why should you bust your ass only to fail? Why should you strive to exceed your own capabilities?

When I nearly lost my fellowship in graduate school, a professor told me an anecdote of a poet who was translating the sonnets of Borges into English. The translator took the pages to the old poet who read them patiently and then looked up to say, “These don’t rhyme.”

The translator explained that rhymes in English, unlike those in Spanish, are much more difficult to compose. Such poems can end up sounding trite, cliche, or simply bad.

The old poet looked at the translator and said simply, “Try harder.”

Tonight, I’ve managed to shave my head. I’ve managed to make a mess of the bathroom. I’ve managed to write enough to keep considering myself a writer. Tomorrow, I’ll try harder.


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