Three hours before I leave to go watch Lee Martin read. I missed Lee Abbott in what was billed as “maybe your last chance to see him read ever,” but it was a work schedule thing, and I happen to have today off, so I get to go to this one, again (I also saw him read in the fall). I haven’t seen Erin McGraw read since her visiting professor stint at Miami, and I’ve never seen Michelle Herman read, or any of her writing beyond the occasional listserv email.

Other authors of note I should probably see read once before I’m gone from this town are Donald Ray Pollack and that’s all. And I doubt I’ll ever see him. But I can summon his name without looking it up, so that should count for something. We’ll mark him off. Yeah.

Three hours to write something fictional.

My left hand, as the days pass, fills more and more with the sensation that it cannot be opened or shut with anything I’d heretofore recognized as normalcy, kind of like a bird claw stuck to the branch after the rest of the bird was hit by a cannonball, or a wire hanger bent out of shape and won’t go back to looking like a hanger ever again. Stemming from the arthritic (?) first knuckle, now the rest of it is complaining that shit just ain’t right. Tickling the keyboard these days feels like putting on pants you haven’t worn since you gained all that baby weight. There’s a familiarity to it, but the word ‘fit’ no longer applies, replaced with a nagging intuition that it was stupid to even try so why don’t you just give up already and figure out something else that needs to be done by you. Anything else.

My right arthritic first knuckle, though, is feeling okay today. And it is rare for me to think a second time about my shoe or underwear selection on any given day, despite my reticence and expected sacrifice of comfort for benefit of style or laziness (didn’t do the laundry). That first five seconds of the back-up too-tights usually sets off all kinds of warning bells, but when I take them off again at the end of the day I’m always a little surprised at having put off for this long thinking about them for a second time. So it’s not a matter of comfort at all, no matter how conscious I am in those early five seconds of the shorter-than-usual proximity twixt balls and taint. Comfort is an illusion, often. Or anyway it’s relative, something that can be exaggerated or eliminated solely by surrounding circumstances. I can write. I could keep writing if my hand stopped working entirely. Having the finger responsible for pressing the letter 'e’ refuse to enjoy its responsibility anymore is no big thing, and anyway it’ll never get any better, bodies after thirty do not as a rule 'improve’ or 'cease their steady and inevitable decay into dirt,’ so there’s no point in dwelling on it.

Just write. Write! Distraction will save you. A moment in someone else’s pain, fictional or no, will take the edge off. For a moment.

Fiction. Get at it.

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