Overtime

This is the last post in a week-long series about a writer’s life. The posts have not always appeared on time, but they’ve restarted this blog again with several fresh posts after an absence. It’s a week that has taken me from Mississauga to the salons of Yorkville, from Downsview station to the café down the street.

Read the first post, Monday and Tuesday, here, Wednesday’s “A Hundred Indecisions” here, Thursday’s “A Little Mirror” here, Friday’s “The Outer Boroughs” here, and Saturday’s “Wedded to my Art” here

SUNDAY

First Period: Upping a Dismal Writing Offensive

“Meet at Rustic Owl for a work-session?” I squint at my Blackberry in bed. I don’t recognize the number but text back, “Sure”. “Do you want to walk down together?” is the next question that comes. I would if I knew whose house to show up at.

What with playoffs hockey, primping, shopping for gifts, meetings and workshops, I haven’t written all week. I wonder if in some way, I’m avoiding it; if that long winter of generating new work and revisions hadn’t drained me more than I guessed. Even sitting as a guest at last night’s ceremony, I felt like there was an itch I couldn’t scratch. But you were at a wedding! You deserved to enjoy yourself!

I’m pleasantly surprised to find my neighbor Jeremy already deep into his research when I get there. I ask if his wife will be joining us after her improv team practice. “No, she doesn’t have any work of the paper kind,” he says. “Sometimes I imagine what that must feel like.”

I open my clipboard that contains the most recent drafts of a few poems I didn’t have time to finish for my thesis, along with something I’m revising for our MA reading on Monday, the draft journal for The Encampment, and some job applications I’ve printed out. I’m good at creating work for myself. Even with acres of free time, I could find a dead language to study, a couple of philosophers I’ve always been meaning to get around to.

Instead of the revisions in front of me, I begin a completely new poem. It’s the first new poem idea I’ve had since handing in my thesis. I take it has a good omen. It even has a title, “Moving Day.” I can hear the rhythm in my head. We packed the-dum and then the-the./ We wrapped them in something and put them in the-dum. China figurines, I think. Rosewood cabinets. Old letters and silverware. Pie stands and cake mixers. It’s a start and I don’t ask for more than that.

Second Period: Unable to Convert on Meditation Advantage

At the drop-in yoga class, the studio overlooks Bloor, Clinton’s bar across the street, passerbys walking to dinner in Little Korea. I’m having trouble concentrating on holding my warrior poses and balancing poses because of the flickers of motion at the corners of my eye. We hold the poses until it hurts to keep our arms in the air, and I use a trick I learned in a different class– to make incremental shifts to take the pressure off.

During savasana, I try to clear my mind but vignettes of the week replay in head. Instead I cycle through the possibilities before me: finding work in the form of an internship or contract position, applying for my Phd (and moving again), subsisting on a cycle of grants and residencies until I can get a couple of books out. None of these options are sustainable in the long run or in themselves, but could lead to other things, or in hockey-speak, “convert the chances”.

Third Period: Gaining Momentum

Fellow Canucks fans Adriana and Sophia join me in my living room to watch Game 5 of the first round series between LA Kings vs Vancouver Canucks, who are down 3-1 in the series and face yet another elimination night. The Sedin twins score a classic Sedin twins goal in the first period, saucering it past the excellent Quick and giving their team the momentum, but the Kings tie it up, and the game heads to overtime.

Adriana, one of the most upbeat, positive people I know, is shaking with frustration and shouting at the TV. “I can’t do this anymore,” she says. “I almost hope they lose so I can focus on other things.” Last year during the Canucks’ glorious playoff run, I was glued to CBC, heading out to any bar with a screen and a seat almost every other night, watching deep into June. I’m not sure if I need that kind of distraction this year either, if it would be just one more willing distraction from writing.

When the Canucks’ defense proves to have some huge holes and the Kings score, they are upstarts ending the hopes of a mighty, but weary, team. My heart aches a little, and I wonder if it’s because of the game or because of some other ending. It’s hard to feel completely sad when I have such a special week ahead– Monday my fellow graduates in the MA in Creative Writing are reading together at the Supermarket, there’s the continuing workshops with the Encampment, my mentor, Al Moritz’s book launch at Anansi’s Poetry Bash, and of course, there is an –almost– finished manuscript on my desk. Whatever momentum I’ve gained, I need to keep going.

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