Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Working away from home

Some days it's hard to work at home. Today was one of those, so after lunch I walked downtown to Z's Divine Espresso. I used to go to this place more often when I lived on the other side of town, several times a week. Now it's a few times a month. The decaf is great, each cup made fresh in the espresso machine.

The coffeeshop was loud today. I could have used earplugs. There was a conversation about modern dance at one table, another about bike riding at another table, another about an embarrassing situation with a boyfriend and alcohol at the counter, and I heard the words "Cozumel, Mexico" from behind me. This coffeehouse is just one large room and I was in the middle of it.

Because of what I like to call my diffuse attention (okay, ADD, if you insist), I'm aware of everything going on around me. I heard all those conversations. I was aware of customers coming and going. Oh, and did I mention there was music?

I thought I was going to work on a writing project, but it became clear that I wasn't paying attention. Good thing I had my copy of Berte aux grands pieds with me, so I could read instead. The only way to block out the noise was to put my fingers in my ears. I got through about twenty pages in French that way.

On my walk home, I worked on the story. I use walks to move stories into my body, to find the right rhythm. Sometimes I tell myself parts of the story, sometimes I put myself in the setting or look for the emotion of the characters. When it's a particularly intense piece of a story and I'm profoundly involved, I find myself gesturing. I try to rein that behavior in when walking downtown, though I don't mind if I'm on the levee path with nobody else around.

If you see me walking around gesturing, lips moving but not speaking out loud, most likely I haven't gone off the deep end, I'm just working away from home.

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