My therapist gave me a writing assignment. I felt ambivalent about the idea, but I kept that to myself. I want to cooperate, and I want to give her the benefit of the doubt. I’ll wait and see what she has to say about what I came up with, see if I gain some insight, or whatever the hell I am supposed to get out of this. If I don’t learn something, gain something, I won’t do it again.
I don’t want to write solely for therapeutic purposes. Could be writing is inherently therapeutic, but my interest is in literature, literary writing. I’m interested in Emily Dickinson, Sylvia Plath, Shakespeare, Kerouac, Bukowski, for example. I was an English major with a concentration in literature: I have read the classics. I loved reading and studying Milton, Virgil, Shelley, Dickens, Blake, and on and on. Loved it. Not that everything I was required to read excited me, some of it didn’t. War and Peace, ugh! One day I will have to try that one again. To tell you the truth, I only got through half of it. But I studied literature, because I love literature. I still informally study it–literature and literary figures. I always will.
My therapist also told me that there was a writing group, which I already knew about, and she thought I might be interested. No, I’m not interested in participating in that particular writing group. I don’t give a fuck if anyone thinks I’m arrogant or uppity about this. Let ’em roll their goddamn eyes. I said, “Yeah, I know. But I’m too serious about it.” (Too serious about writing.) “Oh, we can talk about that,” she answered. We were still in the front office, the receptionist behind her desk. But we never did talk about it. The whole thing seemed to have been forgotten by the time we got to her private talking room. There’s nothing to say about it anyway. I’m not interested, that’s all. So what? I don’t mind the idea of a writing group, but not just any writing group, and sure as hell not a fucking therapeutic writing group.
At any rate, for the writing assignment, my therapist told me to write about:
1. What has made me feel good.
2. What I want.
3. What I deserve.
I didn’t write about these things, it’s too huge a task, but I made lists. Next time I see her, I’ll show her what I came up with, and I’ll ask her how is this supposed to help?
The most difficult part was writing about what I want. I’ve pondered this for many years. (Oh, hell! There goes the fucking loudmouth neighbor. I want him to shut the fuck up. He talks so fucking loud, like he wants the whole fucking neighborhood to hear what he has to say. I’m sure he does. He’s so fucking arrogant, but I also sense his insecurity. If he had anything to be arrogant about, I’d cut him some slack. But he ain’t got shit. I think that’s why he’s such a fucking loudmouth–it makes him take up more space, makes him feel bigger. Looky me, looky me, I’m here, I’m great, I’m special! And his wife is a whiny loudmouth. They have an air of entitlement, fucking dumb assholes. They always disturb my peace! Oh, shit, I so want to live somewhere else!)
Man, I can come up with wants. Wanting is easy. But I’m not always sure which wants are real. It’s like being very hungry and everything sounds good, but not just anything will actually hit the spot.
Some things I know I want, for damn sure, like bread. I need moola. I rent a room in my son’s apartment, and I want my own damn place. But I need more ducats for that. Hell, I want to own a home again. I’ve been a home owner twice in my life. The first time was in 1977, about two and half years before I got divorced. After the divorce, I lived in the house for another five years, then I relocated to Berkeley, so I sold the house. It was community property, so my ex and I had to split the sale price. There was a bubble then too, and it hadn’t yet burst. We had a nice chunk of cash to split between us. The second house I bought on my own in 1999. But I sold it in 2001, because my economic situation changed drastically. I sold it before facing the possibility of losing it. The housing bubble hadn’t burst yet, so I made a little cash to tide me over for awhile. I dream of a house in the country, a rural setting, where the nearest neighbor is no less than a block away. I don’t want total isolation, just space. I want to live in New Mexico. I want to return to the Southwest, where my life began. I imagine myself in my own home somewhere in New Mexico, getting up at sunrise, sitting in my backyard with a cup of coffee on a summer morning. I want to have a dog again. I miss my dog. I asked my sister to take care of her for me because when I sold my house, I couldn’t take my dog with me. She’s in good hands. My sister loves dogs. And my dog, Osita (Little Bear), grew quite fond of my brother-in-law and vice versa.
About a month ago, I dreamed I sent my manuscript of poems to the printer, and when I got them back, the book was a 4 x 5 inch booklet that looked like a second grade project. On the cover was a crayon drawing of a house, tree, and blue sky. The booklet, including the cover, was ordinary copy paper cut in half, folded over, and awkwardly stapled. I was mortified! I said, “I can’t sell these!” When I woke up, for a minute I felt a little depressed. Just for a minute. Then I laughed it off. I know I feel insecure and worried about self-publishing. I’m such a weenie.
Last week I dreamed of Freddie the Freeloader again. (Muse of some of my love poems dressed in black.) This is the second time in several months Freddie is in my dreams. After 25 years?! In this dream, I walked into a room, and Freddie was there. It was an empty classroom. Freddie was the instructor. There was a blackboard, and Freddie wrote something on it. He was put off, didn’t like that I was there. Then this man shows up, like some school administrator or something, and he asked Freddie a question. It had to do with what was written on the board. Freddie stumbled and stuttered, and I realized he didn’t know the answer. I gave the administrator the information he was looking for. Freddie looked relieved because I covered for him, and he relaxed, threw his head back with an air of arrogant confidence. But he seemed to be grateful, not put off by me anymore. The administrator asked who I was, and I told him I was a writer. He looked at Freddie, and Freddie nodded his head, attesting to my statement. It surprised me that Freddie was supportive. That’s when I woke up. I had a good feeling. Not about Freddie, but about myself. I think this dream is about my wanting to be a real writer. Not a writer because I say I am, or think I am, or want to be, or try to be, but an acknowledged writer. I want to be a published. I think I have had a fear of it, a fear of being published. Now, that, my therapist and I can talk about.
Why do I write? Because I want to be a writer. I write because I feel compelled to write. I write because I like to tell stories. I write poetry because I love poetry. I write because I love literature and writers (literary writers), and I want to participate. I write to entertain myself. I write because Kerouac did. Because Dickinson did. Because Bukowski did. I write because writers write.