Monday, July 8, 2013

The Morning, Written

We landed in Chania, Crete very early in the morning. So early in fact, that the sun was not up yet. I know this particular hour of the day. And at the time of this story, September 2004, I was definitely well acquainted with the pre-dawn hour. It was from still being awake and not waking up simple to see this particular hour.

Stefanos and I stood on the dock by the ship and waited for the rest of our party. Later, the group of us wandered into the Venetian quarter of town. The sun began to rise. Stefanos said, “You can see the way a city works at this hour.” And he was right. We watched the delivery trucks. We watched shops open. We watched the world go from the dark of night to the gray of morning to the white of day. All said, it was not a bad thing to do, wake up early, even if it was not my choice. A day later, we were on the way again, another boat ride and another island. Gavdos was the last hop in the journey. While there, I drank a lot of beer and read the last of Richard Brautigan's canon.

But this is not a discussion of travel. This is not about reading leisurely on the beaches in Greece. This is not about by friend Stefanos. This is about the morning.

I find the morning fucking offensive and everyone knows this. The hustle and bustle outside with the shined up workers is so far beyond my comprehension that it taxes my imagination to even understand what's going on. It doesn't matter what these people do, these morning commuters, morning dwellers, it doesn't amount to much. No matter how important they think what they're doing is, I'm pretty sure it can wait until noon. And furthermore, people who get up early in the morning cause economic decay and start wars. And for this reason I have avoided the world at this hour for a very long time.

With few exceptions, I have slept in until noon for the last 25 years. I say this jokingly, of course. Yet, I have never had an 8-5 gig. I have never really been a morning person. In fact, mornings to me have been bedtimes since the first George Bush administration. And I have never really cared to see how a city works with the exception of one morning, ten years ago, half the world away with my friend Stefanos.

When my son showed up at the party last year I really had no idea what to expect. He was born in the afternoon, quarter past four. I figured he would be like me. Sleep until noon. I didn't expect for him to wake up so early in the day, I didn't expect him to be so happy at that offensive hour, and I definitely did not think that I would start to enjoy the mornings with him.

When I think about my life as a writer, and particularly since leaving Goddard College, I have stubbornly kept a specific schedule. It is summed up like this: up mid-morning, write. Mid-afternoon, shower, suit up and leave the house—destination: a place to drink more coffee and write. Late afternoon, work. Midnight, (after work) the bar. Early morning hours, bed. This worked for me. When I consider that all of 2009, 2010, 2011, and the first 8 months of 2012 I spent in this way, I know it worked. It worked because I have 10 novels, 27 poetry chapbooks, 80 short stories and 180 blogposts to show for it.

But that time is gone, at least for now. I find that I'm so tired and in need of a nap at the hour I used to wake up. I'm with my baby boy the rest of the day. And I still work at night. And, suddenly, my time is very limited. The hours I once spent writing I now spend changing diapers and making snacks. It's life, and I have been grateful for the experience.

In the last few days, though, something weird has been happening. We leave the house for the morning walk long before 8:00. This means that we are out in the city and walking around before most people have gotten to work. The air still smells like flowers and vegetation and the river. The smell of exhaust hasn't yet risen. The workers are not at the construction sites yet and the vast majority of folks are still tucked away some place else. During our walk, we listen to the few birds that sing in the downtown Portland trees. We see the small spaces between leaves and the sky, sometimes clear, sometimes cloudy, quietly existing beyond. Morning seems like a good time.

It seems like such a good time that it causes me to think other thoughts. Spacial thoughts. Peaceful thoughts. How can there be anything foul in the world thoughts. It makes me want to write spirited poetry rather than macabre novels. It makes me want to create open-ended images. It makes the day seem promising, somehow. And the people we see? Well, they aren't many. Even if they do create economic ruin and war, they don't seem so bad.

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