I spent this morning chasing clumps of dog hair -- dust and dirt. I meant to be writing. In fact I'd already written a few pages to hear the narrator's voice again, copied onto fresh lined notebook paper the last sentences from the dream and I was just about to come up with something new -- when my eyes blurred into focus. I blinked and sighed. On the floor before me lazed a thin wispy body of dust. I decided to get rid of it so I could concentrate.

I rolled up The TV Week and returned to the kitchen. The dust remained in the exact same spot, as if glued. I swung, struck, thought, There that's done--but when I lifted the baton: nothing. The clump of dust floated so close my bare arm prickled. Then it swooped under the desk. I slammed--a direct hit!-- but at that instant two more balls of dust sprang from under the desk as if popped into the universe. I was surprised, I had swept and mopped the day before. This was a humid hot day, this last sigh of summer monsoons, and perhaps that had kept them in place, settled and raising families. I cornered one against the doorjamb. Another I stalked across the kitchen and held against the dishwasher. A third wavered by the stove. When I swatted, a wild ferocious swing, a whole tumbling crowd shot from under the fridge like clouds from a blunderbuss, then settled back.

My heart pounded, I felt flushed with irritation and disgust. Why must I have such obstacles to writing? I yearned to be submerged, to be "into" my scribbling, when words come fast, and the characters walk and talk the way characters in dreams do -- a global community of free associations. It is like deep sea diving: I go under and poetry shimmers past, fluttering like silk, watched perhaps by a gaping blue tetra with a yellow eye it flits by bubbles become clicks, or there's an eel slithering nomadic-like all set to lunge pouncing on and, destroying the written words, rending them into parts. From the outside I just see the water's surface mirroring back my own face and the familiar world. Submerged, writing I have a strange freedom from gravity and an awareness of community like a bodily hum.

I crave that world, not this. I long to go under. Now though there are obstacles. The computer has a software problem, the Computer Repair Geek says a turn around time of 24 to 48 hours, dentist appointments to make, baby shampoo to wash the healed wounds on the dog, a vote at home ballot card to fill out (I will vote for wimpy ole Bush and cancel out husband's vote for that idiot Gore!)

So dog haired dust puppies! I killed one against the rug. Another rolled over it as if it hoped to pull it along with it, and, when I swung, the breeze split the one into two. I smashed them both into the carpet. I smashed five, SIX, SEVEN balls of dust.....I was furious! The more I wanted to be rid of them the more I had to study them, and they repulsed me more and more--with bits of old dirt and debris, the endless supply of Easter grass that hangs around the corners. I sat down once, picked up my pen, mind composed, and just as I was starting to write I saw a hair twining between my fingers a small clump clung to my hand. Another time I plopped in the chair, wrote four sentences, and spied--could it be?--a faint shadow, the prickle as a small body rolled across my foot. I would not learn. I was a woman being controlled by dust. Discipline, education, visions--gone. My eyes were mesmerized and my hands followed in step the movements of the dust. It ruled me. I let it. I wanted everything just right. I was afraid that just as a good idea for was about to come to me, about to leap the synapse and appear full blown, a hairy dust puppy would appear and jar me, the idea would fall through the gap and be lost forever, impossible to recall because it was never really known.

It is the very commitment to writing that kept me from it. I savored it. I longed for it, missed it, got grumpy about it, hysterically petulant, then again thought of it with a pang-- an adored yet long gone idea. I am thinking about writing, thinking about myself, Looking at the surface of the lined paper in a


70 sheets/wide ruled

1 subject notebook

..... looking at the dusty face looking back.

This must be the fifty-fourth hour, I sulked to myself, I never could get the hang of the fifty-fourth hour.

My last apartment had no windows. Or at least, it had windows that didn't serve their normal purposes, which I would think would include letting in air and light. And I thought, when I moved into this apartment, because it had a normal allowance of normal windows, I would take advantage of it. But I don't think I've yet to open the blinds or the windows. It's enough that light gets in at all.

I've always had dust and cigarette ashes as my desk top company, always a ring of a wine glass bleeding into the tablecloth. Always just enough room to write. Nail polish, Chap Stick, hand lotion and a dictionary within an arm's reach. I don't have a kitchen table so I even eat at my desk, staring at the monitor like most stare at the TV. Call damn you. Someone call and interrupt my modem. Interrupt my stare.

Most of my conversations begin with some off the wall question that usually never gets answered because the person I'm asking is too busy wondering what made me think to ask what I did. I don't know much about getting to know people, what the steps are to this. I know it's all individual, and I get the feeling that I'm the one that has to start things because when people open the conversation for me, it's usually a guy and it's usually something stupid and simple. I mean, how do women start talking to other women?

I'm also not good at regaining someone's trust or attention once I've lost them. So eventually I stop trying, or give up early. Maybe I will learn with the next one, I think to myself, I'll just start over with the next one. I guess that's why I'm alone a lot. My excuses are that I'm around people all day, that I only have a few friends, that I'm an only child and am used to being alone. And while they're true on occasion, they're not true all the time. Sometimes, I just don't trust myself with people. I either don't know what to do or feel this need to rely on what I should be doing, what social interaction dictates is supposed to be happening. Just because I can strike up a conversation with anyone doesn't mean it comes naturally to me. I learned how to do it like other people learn to tie their shoe or program a VCR.

I surprise people when they finally get me talking, and they wonder why I am such a shut in when I'm clearly sociable. I guess I don't want all my ugly parts to be discovered, or maybe I don't want to discover that I don't have as many ugly parts as I had thought, because they've seemed like such a part of me and it will seem like I've lost them. People say they want to be happy, but I'm not sure what makes me happy. Being around other people usually makes me more uncomfortable than anything, but I keep trying. Maybe I need to find another way to try.

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