Saturday, 8 June 2013

Coffeehouse 4: Semi-Comatose

As I blundered in at 7.10a.m., I was the only one in the coffee house.  It felt like MY house.  The two baristas talking quietly in Polish at the far end (the Redhead with the wit, and the quiet braided brown haired one who is very skinny and has the world’s sweetest smile – I think her doppelganger in another dimension is a fairy girl: she smiles at things and they bloom, open out).

Now its 9.30a.m. and its packed in here.  Jonah and his mother, her sister, two friends.  He is immersed in a tablet, watching YouTube.  They have the volume down low, but its annoying the hell out of me.  There’s a ton of noise in here, but it’s white noise (raucous laughing and loud women talk; a man with a voice that carries like Simon Callow; music piped a bit too strongly, and the inevitable hissing and shushing of the coffee machines).  But the tone and pitch of whatever Jonah’s watching on YouTube is bugging me – it’s cutting through everything, a heavy saturated sound.  Lower, more pervasive.  I try hard to ignore it.

On my other side are two mothers with exceptionally cute and odd looking children (one of them looks like Federico de Montefeltro, warrior prince of Renaissance Italy – see pic – yes, the kid has THAT nose; and the other one looks like Benicio del Toro).  The mothers look English as anything, so the fathers’ must be Mediterranean or Latin through and through.

I am (as ever) feeling displaced this morning. I feel a bit of a fraud for being here.  I have no money, but luckily my loyalty card was up to 9 cups – 10th one free.  Now I’m doing the surreptitious tap water from home sipping thing.

It’s taken me two hours to get to writing.  Quentin (yes, that’s his actual name; he’ll never read this, and we should celebrate the Quentin’s of the world, surely?) who comes here every day from 7-8 a.m. before the rest of his working from home day, commented with surprise that I was reading and not writing.

I told him I couldn’t wake up yet. Still can’t.  I’m in fog today.  I spent the 2 hours reading my latest copies of ‘Prima’ and ‘Essentials’ magazines cover to cover.  Folding back corners of pages with crafts or recipes I like, and colour schemes of happy combos I find pretty and harmonious to the eye.  When I have a quiet moment at home I tear out/ cut up the magazine’s best bits and add them to various folders which I have indexed by section.  The whole collection is named ‘Life By Magazine’, and its where I go to get crafts and recipes to use when I have no inspiration, or where I just look at the colours to rest my eyes and therefore my mind.  Its anal, deeply satisfying and does actually come in useful. For instance, in the next week I’ll consult the folder called ‘Occasions’ for the Fathers Day section and see if there’s anything cheap and cheerful I can make for Stanley, soon.

While I’m reading away I’m thinking of writing and assessing my consciousness level.  It’s really low.  The Thought Police are alarmed and send for the Thought Ambulance.  Tiny Gnome Thought Paramedics paddle my head with stampy feet and throw ice water over me.  I blink blearily, and carry on considering ’10 Ways With Mince’, wondering if I can do the unusual Lebanese Lamb recipe with the rather tasteless soy mince, by using extra Harissa for flavour.  Would Stanley like that?

On the one hand, these thoughts are useful.  On the other, this ain’t how the Next Great English Novel will get written.  Or any novel.

Deciding my consciousness level is 2 iotas higher (plus the fact there are more massively yelling babies in buggies here, mysteriously being ignored by their groomed heavily chatting mothers, with no obvious embarrassment or callousness, weird) I have no choice but to waken a notch more.  I take out my Ovate Grade study lessons, and in about 5 minutes flat seem to have read one.  But, hmmmm, it’s telling me to go off and make a Crane Bag.  I can’t do that right now.  Impasse.  No fabric in coffeeshop.  Have vision of ripping off my jeans, saying, “This fabric is hardy enough, this will do!” – the mothers won’t bat an eyelid, they are all being very loud and very insular, I could probably run about naked and be ignored today.

So.  I put my Druid stuff to one side.  Apparently I am not awake enough to feel spiritual today.

I’m wanting to read on my Kindle.  I don’t want to work today; my head is full of golden syrup, just slowly sludging from one side to the other, giving my brain cavities with its sweetness.

There’s a lone dad in here, checking his Android phone, and his small bored toddler is tearing strips off the dad’s copy of The Times and eating them.  I try and catch the dad’s eye (are there still toxic chemicals in newsprint?) but he looks up in time, and does his best not to explode in anger, though he seems pretty irritable.  (He’s been all jerky and snippy since they sat down.)  He takes the paper away and the tiny boy looks confused and bereft, his small eyebrows rising into his hair.  The dad starts to get ready to leave, gulping down the rest of his coffee, and tiny boy stands to attention with his hand out, waiting for it to be held.  This melts the dad’s crossness.  He unpurses his lips, and takes tiny boy’s hand.  They share a lovely smile, and leave in identical blue anoraks and blue jeans, black Doc Martens.

I can feel my eyelids trying to close.  My focus swims.  I feel dizzy and lightheaded.  Some days are like this all day.  If I come to a stop at all, it’s like I’ve gone into suspended animation. There’s some kind of Autopilot Me on watch, so I don’t fall down, trip over stuff, or spill hot drinks down myself; but mostly I feel that soft fluff of sleep moving centre stage in my head.  If I close my eyes for just a second, my whole body goes to sleep.  I drift.  It’s most unfortunate I’m getting this on my morning off.  It’s bad enough when I get this flopsy looking after Fluffhead (I end up pacing the room just to stay conscious; I cannot sit down or I just fade out), but on my morning off?  Iniquitous!

I think of the Dennis Palambo advice - 'write about the dog', i.e. whatever is in your head now, concerning you.  How much can I say about SLEEP?  What I'm wanting is an absence of responsibility and consciousness.  Where I want to be there ARE no words, or not like here.  Hmm.  The dog is sleep.  The dog is asleep.  Lucky dog.

I read an article on my Kindle about what inspires some writers, where they get their ideas from. It’s interesting that the things are so small.  Looking at a room, a snippet of conversation, the hint of a ‘what if’ thought.  It must be because I’m so brain frazzled and tired that none of these sorts of things do it for me anymore.  I make those same sorts of observations, then think “yeah…and?”  And I fluff off.  Thinking about cushions and sleeping.  (Lay me in my little boat, light the little light, this is the way to the Garden In The Night…)

Jonah is now watching Thunderbirds, which I hate (creepy as all feck).  I try instead to tune in to the conversation going on to my right – a woman dressed very plainly but smartly in a black suit jacket with shift dress, and the bald suit with her, sweaty head, nodding at her as she speaks.  Looks like a job interview.  She’s confident.  There’s a bit of tension in her posture, straight back, shoulders a bit hunched – but her face is open, and she’s enthusiastic.  The man listens intently.  To his credit, his eyes are nowhere near her chest, which is capacious.

But Jonah’s mum’s sister starts talking loudly about how her cleaner is starting again this Friday.  I want to be irritated by what she’s saying, as well as her boomy voice (she’s one of those loud women who punctuate every sentence with ringing, thigh-slapping laughter – and by god, its getting old after 45 minutes of it almost constantly: woman, I want you to take a sedative or something…).  Thing is, I can only manage crossness at the voice and the laughing.  I think I would love a cleaner.  I used to say if I ever won the Lottery or anything, I would ‘keep it real’ and iron my own shirts and mop the floor etc.  After 3 years of hardly any sleep, I say: BULLSHIT.  Please come and do my mopping and ironing, someone!

I yawn hugely and watch Jonah cram a whole almond croissant in his mouth, creating a large crumb fallout field.  Yup.  They need a cleaner.  (Loud sister slaps thigh, booms laughter, points at Jonah.  Jonah, tip your milkshake on her, go on, please?)

God, I don’t want to work today.

For some reason, my head is filled with a vision of...of all things…a mythical, imaginary Parisian café.  Where I sit outside, looking like 70s film star Corinne Cleary, in an old style rainmac (collars!) sipping the French equivalent of an espresso from a china cup.  It’s a dim overcast day, there’s a definite chill in the air, I’m…also close to a river, and can hear water lapping nearby.

I sit there, looking incredibly awake, but detached and cool (sophisticated is the word I appear to be after here), with my wavy perfectly controlled hair, and my clear dewy skin.  My slightly downturned but not sulky mouth.  I cross and uncross my long shiny mythical legs.  I seem to be waiting for someone.  A man, obviously.  In this vision, I clearly have a very exciting life.  Plus, in this vision, I think I can wear high heels without spraining my ankle.  And exist on a diet of lettuce and apple peelings (and tiny Frenchish espressos).

I wonder why I always descend into fantasy?  Don’t answer that.

I give in.  I’m going to read.

I ask Jonah’s mum to turn down the volume on that tablet of his.  She complies with an outward sweetness and inner seething at the implied criticism that I am so very familiar with in us females.  It’s a result of the way we are brought up.  If you are brought up to constantly pay attention to the needs and desires of others, you get resentful.  It’s not natural to be taught your own needs are selfish and always second.  ‘Specially when people keep exhorting you to ‘take care of yourself’.  Gets confusing and irritating.  And add that to feeling your children’s behaviour reflects on your mothering utterly (as your mother probably taught you) and any hint of criticism of your child, especially from another woman…and you have an internal volcano there, simmering away.  I try to smile genuinely at her, to show I mean no harm, I just need some quiet.  What I want to add is “please turn down your steroid sister, as well, please?”

I open my Kindle again and sink into a fluffy fantasy written by someone else.  Today the Great English Novel will have to wait.

Jonah empties his strawberry milkshake onto the tablet screen.  Much noise ensues.  Followed by silence.  No boomy laughter now.  There’s a mercy.  Can’t help smiling, a bit.

No comments:

Post a Comment