i. The Stiff
I thought I wouldn't care if my physical therapist was a man or a woman, but the other day when the p.t. turned me over on the table, climbed on top of me, and thrust full-weight onto my spine, I was glad she was a she.
I don't want any resistance, any impulse toward self-protection on my part to get in the way of the work.
P.T. is the best therapy I've ever had.
Everything my therapist says applies to my emotional and writing life as well as my body.
Like, "You need to practice breathing." My rib cage is so stiff, she says, it's as if I underwent some trauma, like a car accident.
"How 'bout grief?" I ask.
"Yeah, that'd do it too," she said.
And, she says, "Stiffness is compensation for weakness."
You sustain an injury and instead of strengthening and stretching it, a tendency is to not move or to favor it, use other parts. They're not as well designed for the work and can tighten up in a knot.
My writing is as stiff as my muscles. It feels like an engine block to me.
Yesterday I got my author's copies of the Frindian War book from the publisher.
[This picture isn't in it, but close...]
I knew the marketing department had turned into a book about George W., but actually seeing him on the cover was like tearing a muscle. My original title was "Who Fired First?" and GW was one of several characters. Now the title focuses on GW and he's front and center, the hero.
In truth, the war was important to him, but he was not important to the war.
By changing the emphasis--mostly through title and picture choices––it's like history got castrated.
ii. The Cypher
By incredible luck, I couldn't stay home and stew. I had arranged to interview the amazing Tish Jones at the Spoken Word open mic she hosts, for the communications book.
Turned out we didn't get much time to talk, but in the few minutes we had, she gave me what I didn't even know I needed:
she told me about Hip Hop cyphers: performance circles of rappers and dancers and beatboxers.
I stayed for the open mic--second time I have. There's always an accomplished featured artist, which is wonderful, but I almost get more out of the high schoolers who get up and read their stuff. Their body (of work) is so new, the wounds are fresh, and there's so much bravery and honesty in how the kids get up and show them and just outright say, "This hurts!"
Or they come on strong with defiant celebration.
They're still limber, and if they keep writing, they might stay that way.
I went home and watched The Freshest Kids: The History of the B-Boy a doc about the history of break dancing and Hip Hop culture. (Streaming on Netflix, or it's also on youtube.)
I stayed up until 2 a.m. reading about writing rap.
How to Freestyle Rap [free-flowing it off the top of your head] says:
First step. start easy.
Write silly stupid easy stuff. Like, the bunny is funny.
This morning I called bink and got talking about how we used to do this, though we didn't think of it as rap. We just used to make up silly rhymes, and she is especially good at fresh rhymes.
Let's do it now, I said.
Here's what we came up with.
with Baby Flakes
ease my aches.
Then, melon cakes.
This is a true story:
Maura was making pancakes for bink,
"Baby Flakes," a rhyme bink pulled out of the air, must be Joop, whose doggie brain is sadly getting flaky from Alzheimer's or something;
and later today bink & I are going to a Chinese bakery for melon cakes.
I can feel my brain expanding like my ribs.