I will be 46 years old for another 95 minutes as of right now. Yep, I'm officially pushing "pushing fifty." Heh. I spent Memorial Day weekend at my mom's, eating tiramisu cake to celebrate.
On the way back, I'd set up a playlist on my iPod, and it was within about two minutes of being the exact length of the drive (which is a little over 4 hours). I listened to Joni Mitchell's Hejira, Patti Scialfa's Play It As It Lays, and a recent Bruce Springsteen concert recorded in Seattle. (I have to say that "Point Blank" into "Devil's Arcade" in the deepening twilight just past sunset, long gray clouds over long green fields, was a bit -- well, almost creepy. Ominous music. But in a good way.) As I pulled into the driveway of my home, Bruce was just doing the band intros at the end of "American Land." I almost sat in the driveway and listened to that last minute and a half or so, but was too eager to get inside and see the cats. Made for darn good driving music, though, all the way.
Haven't drafted a poem since May 11. Which explains why I feel off-kilter. Or maybe I haven't written because I feel off-kilter. Vicious cycle, that.
On Sunday I leave for my manuscript retreat. Maybe I'll get some new writing done during the week. Mainly, I want to wrestle the manuscript into something remotely resembling submission (ooh, kinky) and do some revision. I feel really apprehensive about this whole thing, for a whole bunch of reasons -- some valid, some not so much.
A lot of things coming together in a nostalgic kind of way, lately. Listening to some music I listened to obsessively in my late teens/early twenties and finding a whole new dimension in it. The recent "alumni reunion" at my old dorm. Being back in touch, a bit, with a couple of people I hadn't heard from in some years. Birthdays. Watching loved ones age. The change of seasons. I'm not sure where this ride is taking me; I don't like nostalgia poems, so who knows.
This retreat is partly about solitude -- something I'm not afraid of, and which I have a fair amount of in my life. It feels like a different quality of solitude, going into this. Me and the manuscript. I almost feel like I shouldn't tell anyone where I'm going, keep the destination a secret the way you're supposed to for a honeymoon. Because this manuscript face-off feels a bit like a covenant, a (re)commitment. Like I should be making vows to poetry. Maybe I should have planned to do this in a nunnery. ;)
The lights go out and it's just the three of us,
You, me, and all that stuff we're so scared of.
I'm kind of sad not to be doing a workshop this summer. There are some good ones out there. At the same time ... it kind of does feel right, this year, just to take a pile of poems into a room and dive in for a while. Yeah, it would be nice to be doing it in Provincetown, but there are a lot of distractions there. Lovely distractions indeed, but ... distractions.
Apprehensive about next week, yes. Also curious about what I'll end up with. I have some ideas about what I think this manuscript will look like, but I need to do the work before I know for sure.
Apprehensive. Curious. Solipsistic as hell. Yep, smells like a poetry retreat to me. ;) Debating the relative merits of taking a bottle of wine. Speaking of distractions.
If you've done a similar retreat, tell me about it -- what worked, what didn't. How it changed you, or how it didn't. I'd love to hear.