Monday, February 22, 2010

Invisible frogs

I can hear frogs when I step outside. A stagey chorus of frog voices. I hear them, but I can't see them, although I lurked beside the pond this afternoon, peering into crevices. No dice.

I can even hear them in here, in my room. Don't be fooled; it's a creature metropolis out here in the country. Teeming. Last night I needed to walk, but the dark here is deep. I saw a path leading up and into trees and I stepped in that direction, flashlight in hand.

I stepped in that direction, then stopped. All the childhood fears - of things moving in the dark, things unseen, of lives going on in the underbrush - all came running up to hit me square in the face. I'm a grown-up woman who walks easily by neighborhood toughs and crackheads and drunks, but this was too much. An unknown path in the deep dark of the forest is just too much.

I turned back to my room, ready to run laps up and down the stairs.

Today a jackrabbit the size of a beagle looks at me out the side of his eyes, giant ears alert, then dismisses me. I'm not a threat; I barely exist in its world. A mutant bumblebee circles my head, impossibly staying aloft, buzzing like a small plane coming in for a landing.

Two deer have a friendly shit together not five feet away, and I barely register. I'm irrelevant.

A person could get used to this. If I could stay here another week or three, my little dramas might shrink back down into proportion. But it's only another day and a half, and then I'll be back in my own wilderness.

Until then, the frogs belch in their amphitheaters, unfazed by my tromping boots while I try to find them out. They're performing for another crowd entirely.

Monday, February 15, 2010

Time to make the doughnuts

Because what a writer does is write. Because I said this blog is updated weekly, and it's been a week. Because when my brother owned a doughnut store, he got up at four or even three every morning to make the doughnuts, yeah, just like the guy in the commercial.

Because there's no such thing as writer's block. There's only the writer and the page and the words and you have to put the words on the page or you're not a writer.

You have to put the words on the page even when you think there's nothing to say. It's only when you start putting words on the page that you remember the German tourist in running clothes asking how to get to Castro, and then to Golden Gate Park, how you point back in the direction he came from and he's off and flying, ready to cover the whole city in his white running shoes.

And his shoes, like a dotted line, point the way to the blond sitting in a doorway, her head down. She asks for a cigarette when you're already past her. She doesn't look up, the words coming out of her like she's been saying them for years, pull her string and Spare a cigarette? and the string runs out and someone else walks by and her string is pulled again: Spare a cigarette?

From her to chalked exhortations on the sidewalk:

It May Not Seem Like It, But Things Will Get Better
You Rock My Socks
I Am A Better Person Because Of You

A neighborhood crackhead wavers on his feet, burning cig between his fingers. His eyes trace the one that reads:

You Are Exactly Where You Need To Be

Monday, February 08, 2010

Shall we dance

The day starts with filtered sunshine, sliding in between the buildings and finding me out in my new little home.

From my bed I can lean out the window and see down the pocket between my building and the next: six floors to the bottom. Looking up I see HOTEL painted in red block letters. Behind HOTEL, GRANT BLDG. announces itself. Across the canyon of Market Street, faded letters spell RENOIR HOTEL from top to bottom. We are an exclusive society of aging buildings up here, a cotillion in gloves worn soft as kitten paws.

The sun is gone by late afternoon, and when I lift my head from work, the streets are shining wet.

It's nearly nine when I'm standing at the bus stop, scarf over my head. A tall white man with big teeth is the only other passenger at the stop. He wears salary man clothes: blue oxford shirt, gray trousers, shined shoes. I see his feet moving out of the corner of my eye. At first I think he's dancing with the cold, but then I look at him properly.

He's just dancing. Holding his coat as a partner, he's marking out steps. Right-two-three, he whispers, and turn! He spins, coat sleeves flying out, and I see his eyes for an instant, the tiny shock of catching my gaze. He calms it down, self-conscious, but I can still see his weight shifting forward, back, side, side.

His feet don't lift from the sidewalk, but he's dancing just the same.