"For a person who doesn't know what they're doing you seem busy, Miss Turtle."
"Arrrghh," is my only frustrated response.
We're sitting in the dark place still, but the pitch blackness has faded a bit. Here and there we can make out a star much like when a cloud cover is spread across the night sky. We are seated at a spot that looks suspiciously like one of the picnic tables in the Forest of My Imagination, but without the forest. There's even a crudely carved "Gryphon loves Turtle" in the table that I'd seen last time we'd had lunch there. No doubt one of the other inhabitants of my Forest did it. The T-Rex is always teasing us about "liking" each other. His is a sixth grade personality complete with toilet humor.
I had a session with my therapist this week where I told him I don't know what to do with my life. I told him I couldn't see the point of it. I told him all about how I wasn't making good use of my time. I told him and I told him. His response was the same as Mr. Gryphon's up there.
A couple of friends have told me the same thing especially after I told them about the swimming, the trip to Europe in November, my eminent return to volunteering with my beloved penguins, working, going to the movies, watching my Northern Renaissance art videos and reading. I'm not doing enough. It's never enough.
What this means is I'm not writing on a regular basis. Well okay, it's true I have been posting here and on my other blog more, but that's NOT working on my novel.
"Your novel will be waiting when you return to it, Miss Turtle." I give him an annoyed look. The lamp that never goes out is sitting on the table in front of us, flame steady as ever. I'm still dressed as Alice with my blue dress and white apron without a spot on it. I'm leaning on the table as the wind continues to blow around us, but somehow the wind is staying outside the lamp light.
"I don't know what to do with it, Mr. Gryphon. I still don't know how to finish it. I'm afraid and muddled so I'm writing this post as a way to get some writing done even if it has nothing to do with my novel. I dread going back to work on it because I have so many damn lists and paragraphs to write about so I can summarize the story. I'm tired of making lists of the character's traits and individual stories within the novel. I want to actually revise the damn thing so I can see how it takes shape. These lists help, but I can't friggin' stand them."
"I can't stop. Each time I work on the preparatory stuff the actual story becomes clearer and clearer. I don't know how people can sustain doing this kind of work, Mr. Gryphon. I truly don't. It's driving me nutty."
Wisely he doesn't respond.
"And I want to work on my other stories too, but again I don't want to do the preparatory work, but how am I to know where my story is supposed to go without all that work?"
"You seem to do fine with these posts, Miss Turtle, and don't tell me The Coda isn't wonderful and enchanting. And that was only a first draft you did with very few revisions."
"Yes, but The Coda is not fit for ordinary consumption. It's not a novel that I want to grow into a page turner. And these posts just sort of come naturally as does the editing. I don't know why it's easier," I shift a little in my seat and roll my neck back and forth. My neck's been bothering me lately. I continue, "I read my first post about you the other day and you have changed a lot. You were a lot more argumentative and unsmiling then."
"I was based on a real person and that person was definitely unsmiling and argumentative at the time," says Mr. Gryphon. He leans against me and stretches out his long legs like he usually does at this picnic table. "In fact, he's still like that."
"I'm distracted, Mr. Gryphon. I went out drinking with some friends. We all got drunk and one of the guys was really flirty. Nothing is going to come of it, I can tell you now but it has made me think about things a little differently." I look at my hands, almost in wonder because I have a nice manicure for a change. The iridescent white/pink nail polish sparkles in the lamplight.
"Is he that same guy you keep writing about?"
"I'll not answer that."
"You're just a tease, Miss Turtle. You'll have people wondering."
"No one reads this blog so I can hide here and say whatever I want."
We sit quietly for a while and I'm getting hungry. This is a luxury trip through my own darkness. Whenever we need anything a pale blue door appears and we open it to find whatever we need, usually a small but well equipped kitchen. I always insist that we sleep out here the darkness just to keep ourselves honest, but even though the ground is hard I still get to lean against Gryphon who is warm and comfortable.
"What do I do? What do I do?"
"Seems like you're doing it."
"I keep thinking I need a creed or philosophy to guide me. Some kind of method to help me reach my goals. Some kind of list or way of doing things. I search and search. I have all these books and some I read over and over, but I don't apply them. None of them fit although sometimes some aspects of what they suggest might work. Then I start all over again, then I don't get anything done and then I'm back to the same question: what do I do?" I'm ready to keep babbling on about this crap, but stop because I've surprised myself. Most of my close friends know how confused I am in general, but not all of them know how I keep going back over and over these same issues, how I've spent years going over them.
"You have your new principles. Those are interesting when you consider the source," he says. I redden at his comment. I made a list of Joker principles a couple of days ago, and I must confess I really like them. I've even invited Joker to one of my nightly-before-bed gatherings I sometimes indulge in. This is something I picked up from one of my many self-help books where many of the inhabitants of my Forest of Imagination hang out in my room talking to each other about me and each other as I'm dozing off to sleep. Of course in that particular self-help book you're supposed to imagine your "heroes" around you talking just before you nod off, not your Gryphon, several incarnations of yourself from other times (including your dead self), the T-Rex and a killer clown.
If you think about it having imaginary friends around you talking while you go to sleep isn't all that different from worrying about something over and over or replaying some upsetting event in your mind in the middle of the night. It's just a different thought is all, and a good deal more relaxing.
I spend way too much time alone is what this post is really about.
"Did you like talking to that killer clown?" I can't resist following this line of questioning. Hell, no one's going to read this so why not?
"He was interesting. Untrustworthy, of course, but curiously transparent. He kept changing his back story. He's a lonely person, doesn't like to be bored, but I have to say there's place for him here, at least temporarily, considering how deep your dark side goes," says Mr. Gryphon.
"I invited him because I know he can't hurt anybody here," I say yawning. I'm tired now and it's almost time to walk the dog.
"No, Joker can't hurt anybody, but I have a feeling he might start stirring up some moral dilemmas here if we let him. Think of what a playground this place is for him, Miss Turtle."
"I guess you're right. Maybe I shouldn't invite him here again. Time will tell." My fascination with this character will likely drop off like the other characters I've been enamored with. Few have the staying power to find a permanent home here in my Forest.
I'm embarrassed that this post has degenerated into shop talk, but so what? I write what I write. Some of it is pretty good and some of it is just junk mail. Like this post.
"Time for a snack," I say and the blue door appears in front of us hovering. We open the door and walk into the kitchen which has grown huge in size.
"Speak of the devil," says Mr. Gryphon and sure enough there's the killer clown. I walk into the kitchen and he has used most of the pots and pans. His shirt sleeves are rolled up and his long purple coat is carefully placed on the breakfast nook table in the far corner of the now very large kitchen. There's Tide detergent with oxidizing action boxes on the counter and huge Styrofoam chunks all over the floor. The smell of high priced gasoline permeates the room. It's so strong that the air between me and Gryphon and him is shimmering like the air above asphalt on the hot summer day.
"I thought I'd make good use of this kitchen," says the clown with his trademark smile.
Mr. Gryphon can only stand there without speaking. Neither of us has ever encountered a situation like this and I can see that it will only get worse.
I look at Gryphon. "It can't get any worse than that Tunguska Explosion," I say.
"No, not even this clown can do anything that equals a 15 megaton blast."
"You never know," says the clown and he laughs hysterically. I can see we've got quite the situation to deal with now and I give up getting to bed at a reasonable hour. I close the door behind us. Good thing none of us are smokers.
(Note: I've kept the clown's dialog to a minimum here because I don't really know how to write the cool things he'd say, but I'd be lying if I wasn't dying to listen to him talk.)