Finishing the Hat

I don’t know what Connie’s trying to write, but I feel her feels. Hard. Seeing it in my local (tangible) newspaper absolutely made my Thursday morning.

This isn’t my truth today, however. Today I’ve been frivolling at the Blanco Lavender Festival with my mom—a particularly inspired team-up, because together we’ll make a methodical assessment of whatever space we’re in. Solo it’s more of a surgical strike, and I know I make regrettable errors when I’m hasty. There was lavender, we were opportunistically successful in our shopping, and—of more importance to me!—we shared some lovely British-style fish and chips, with bonus hush puppies. Took us two hours, arrival to departure… about the same amount of time the driving took. We’re good with that.

Today I’ve also explored a hole in my artistic education: Sunday in the Park With George. M sent me some Sondheim links, because she wanted someone to commiserate with her in her geekiness. I can definitely bring the geekery, and I know enough to respect the Sondheim name, but musical theater is not my wheelhouse. So she brought me into the fold with this:

It’s sneakily evocative of the odd mindset that artists have. Not that this is a secret per se, but somehow non-artists seem to lose track of this:

if you’re someone who lives by looking at the world in a different way, you’re someone who pulls out of the usual flow and looks.

And it’s not a choice-choice; it’s more something that happens and then it’s too late. I tell people that poetry is something I can’t seem to quit… that’s been my most successful way of articulating why I’m a poet.

It leaves out what Sondheim illustrates here, though. My description sidesteps the outsider effect.

For me, it comes a few different ways. There’s the image that arrives like a thunderclap—to capture it, I immediately drop everything else and scribble. Unless I’m driving, and then I’m just bitter. Because the image seldom lasts until I can get to a safe stopping-place, and my voice memos only seem to work for prose.

But more upsetting to non-writers, as far as I can tell, is how everything a writer hears and sees gets gathered up into words on a page. Bitter fights, silly baby words, head tilts, precious family experiences—I set aside nothing. Or I haven’t so far.

So I’m recording even while I’m ‘being present.’ And commandeering what happens into my words, and my vision. Which renders me sort of the owner of what happened, even though I’m seldom the only participant.

Listen to the song. And then go back and listen again. Use this if you want the words nearby; you don’t want to miss any.

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