Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Can't Write



I have been trying to figure out why I am having so much trouble concentrating on my writing. I brought with me miles of piles of folders full of ideas, research, photos, half-written articles, and more. Since moving to México I have created additional folders full of ideas, photos, etc…you get the drift. Is it a case of “too much information?” I asked myself. “No, it is easy enough to grab one idea and run with it….usually,” I answered.

The computer was giving me a hard time. That must be it, I thought. So I bought a new one. Now I cannot seem to get the files transferred from the old laptop to the new hard drive so I am sitting here with TWO computers, two keyboards, two mousse (mice?) and still, words are not flowing. I like to write by hand, so I went upstairs and tried the guest bedroom, then outside at a table on the patio. I had to lug too much crap upstairs and got distracted doing laundry. I had some luck IN the swimming pool until the wind came up a couple of days and flew my papers all over the place.

Maybe I am still overwhelmed with the major life change, pretty much abandoning my life in Hawaii and plopping myself alone in the middle of a huge, hot Mexican city. I only began mingling with other foreigners, or expats, in the past month or so. Until then I was camping out in this huge house with several types of construction projects constantly underway around me involving mostly Spanish speaking folks.

Then there is Pablo. He and I hooked up around Hurricane Dean last August and have been stuck like glue since. It is wonderful to have a friend like Pablo. I am not even going to go into how amazing our relationship is. I have to say that it takes a lot of time and effort to communicate feelings carefully. Conversation about tacos is much easier than one about the differences in educational systems, privileges, cultural backgrounds and personal preferences, just to name a few. I will admit I spend much of my time simply being (and living simply) with Pablo, but it is not his fault I am not writing.

We have the swim school. We opened up the swimming pool for swim classes and aquatic exercises. We have students from 3 to 27 years of age, and our exercisers are baby boomers, let’s say. The hours are staggered. The paperwork involved in operating a little swim school is staggering. But no, I do not personally have to maintain the pool, or teach the classes. I administer the paperwork and have it pretty well organized. Class is going on as I write this and as you can see, I am writing. Not much. More of a rant, but I am trying. Anyway, I cannot blame the swim school.

Ok, it must be the total language immersion. Speaking Spanish 97% of the time, occasionally talking in English to neighbors or on the phone. Deciding to take 6 hours a week of Mayan language classes for five months may have triggered some decline in concentration. I am enthralled by some of the concepts interpreted in one word in Mayan for which we require multiple sentences in English! I want to write about that! However I am having trouble finding time to study all we learn in those six hours a week, let alone analyze it and explain it. My writing blank (not block, exactly) may indeed be affected by too many languages spinning in my head. A little bit anyhow.

Today I came up with an idea. Perhaps it is my work space. I set up my writing space on a huge desk with grandiose plans in my bedroom. There was just the laptop and me. I added a printer. Pablo. Another computer. A webcam for Skype. And of course, miles of piles of paperwork. One day last week I went through some of the miles of files and tossed out documents that felt aged. That helped. The piles are smaller. But I sat with several ideas in my head at this desk for days and stared at a blank page….ok, on and off, an hour here or there…

The first rule of writing is to WRITE. The second rule is to have a space. It just has to be a FEEL GOOD space. I think I made a mistake putting my office in my bedroom! I can hear every “Uno! Dos! Tres! Vamonos!” of Maestro Pablo, and every scream, laugh and cough of the kids. If there is no class going on, the television may be on in here. Or there is a constant parade of the commando of cats heading toward the feed dish. There are so many distractions.

What’s more, I have my own bathroom which I stare at from my desk. We have a saying “Don’t eat where you shit” and I think that that is sort of what the problem is. I can literally spend 24 hours a day in this one room. I have to bring food in but still, that is only a four meter walk, round trip to the kitchen. I have created too small a world for myself and I live in a castle. For now I have decided my biggest distraction is the need to reorganize my space. I am moving to the green room, aka the hurricane room, opium den, recording studio. It is worth a try. It has a door that closes, no windows and room for my miles of piles, the desk, three fans and a hammock hanging on a life-size painting of a palm tree on the wall. Attached are the last photos of me in my berry colored bedroom, and a photo of the palm tree Pablo painted in my new SPACE. Wish me luck.

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