If you need a very quiet place to work, look up a friendly senior citizen living in a senior apartment complex who needs someone to look after the place for a few days. My father is still in transitional care, the floor guy is stretching the refinishing our hardwood floors over too many days, and the pile of things to do that can’t be done in Caribou’s has grown alarmingly. So today I am working at the kitchen desk of my Dad’s place at the Commons on Marice. The only sounds I’ve heard in the last three hours are two ringing telephones and the air conditioner clicking on when the temperature hit seventy-eight.
The first hour I spent making phone calls and dealing with business. The second hour I worked on revisions of a freelance project. The third hour I pushed through writing five pages of a new work. I should have been completing a medical insurance application.
My Dad is a meticulous housekeeper. The bed is made before breakfast, the morning’s paper is recycled before lunch, the kitchen counter is cleaned of everything beside his medications before bed. I know where I was trained, but with our house in a remodeling mess I’ve been working on a corner of my desk surrounded by shoes and bags and empty cups. I can write from that corner, I just can’t seem to do anything else. Like submissions in this September sweeps month or the medical insurance application or scheduling a follow-up doctor’s appointment for myself.
A friend suggested that I should capture the emotions and craziness of this month when my father’s rapid health decline intercepted the reworking of ceilings and hardwood floors in about a quarter of our house including access to the only ways in and out of our house. I told him I was writing every day. He said that was too structured and what I should be doing was allowing myself to dump all the frustration of today’s healthcare system and such into a journal. I think he said write all the shit someplace because no one would ever believe it. But years ago I gave up that kind of journaling. I mean, what if anyone were to read your journals after your death and had to dig through pages and pages of frustrations about discovering the sour cream you just bought had an expired sell date or the car mechanic didn’t tighten down a cover when doing an oil change or your father’s transitional care unit staff hadn’t called his physician in the first four days he was in their facility. What would someone learn about your deep inner workings or carry away from that assortment of information?
Better to push out a few more paragraphs or pages of Ginseng Field. Too bad there are waiting lists at these senior living centers. They could make wonderful places for writers to work in a whole lot of peaceful quiet.