Mourning Pages

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A few days before Rob died, I started doing this thing called Morning Pages. It’s a pretty famous exercise from a pretty famous book called “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron. I was in a creative funk and needed to kickstart my writing again, and this seemed like as good a way as any to help me find my muse.

As you can tell by its name, you’re supposed to do it as soon as you wake up. It’s basically a stream-of-consciousness exercise where you just vomit out whatever is in your head—without stopping to edit—until you reach three pages of longhand writing (I cheated and typed). And then, presumably, you have the rest of the day to unleash all of the creative brilliance that had been buried beneath the stuff you just puked up. It’s also supposed to help calm you and center your mind, two things I desperately needed.

You’re not supposed to share these pages with anyone or even go back and read them yourself, but I recently did and will now share them with you (sorry, Julia). This is what I wrote on February 6, just a few hours before everything changed forever.

***

Hello? Is this thing on? Testing, 1-2-3. Hello, hello, hello, how low. Hi! How many words was that? Are we almost done? Okay, no more fuckin’ around. Let’s do this thing.

I know I’m supposed to be doing this first thing in the morning and doing it every day, but stupid life keeps getting in the way and I just can’t help it. So here I am at 5 o’clock in the afternoon sitting at the keyboard, and where shall I begin?

It’s got to be about Rob because it’s almost always about Rob. I saw him yesterday and he’s not a happy camper and it’s always so complicated with him, and that’s probably more on me than on him. He seemed tired and burnt out because he’s juggling like four different crappy jobs just trying to make ends meet and I’m pretty sure he’s in some deep shit, and yet I told him I didn’t want to hear all the gory details this time around because I have my own fuckin’ problems to worry about (to say nothing of me trying to “detach with love”), so he’s been sparing me the particulars, but I always know when he’s not happy because every parent knows.

Rob’s been not happy a lot lately. We went for dumplings and fell into our usual bullshitting about all the stuff that doesn’t really matter, and I would so like to have an honest conversation with him one day instead of us dancing around each other with our clever jokes, and me trying not to piss him off. I don’t even know if it would do any good, like if I could come up with some magic words that would somehow put him on the right path or wave a magic wand that would miraculously cure him of whatever fucked-up shit he’s dealing with. I guess I wanna be Harry Potter. When I was a kid, I so wanted magic to be real. The worst thing that I ever did back then was buy a few books that revealed how all those cool tricks were really done and—voila!—it’s been downhill ever since.

The same can be said for Rob. He’s come a long way this year. Literally. He came out to L.A. against my advice and things were fucked up even before he arrived. He was on the train coming out west when he called to say that his new roommate needed $750 immediately or he couldn’t move in, and the dude would only accept Venmo or some bullshit like that, the usual Rob story, the usual sob story, and he swore he was gonna pay me back. And me being his primary enabler and primary loan officer, I of course “lent” him the money, and we were off to the races.

He was kicked out of the apartment a few weeks later, and then even more horrible stuff happened to him, so he came to live with Maura and me for four months, and the whole goddamn thing has been a shitshow ever since. Maybe I’ll write the real story someday, but not now. Now I’m just killing time, which just reminded me of the classic snotty quote by Truman Capote when asked how he felt about Kerouac’s “On the Road”—“That’s not writing, it’s typing.”

So…so is a good way to start a sentence. It’s intimate, almost conspiratorial. So…I got nothing. Rob told Caryn that he’s depressed and needs meds and I’m thinking that I’m right there with him. Being unemployed is just the worst. I can’t think of too many things that are as painful. It just bums you out and makes you feel small and worthless and not good at anything. As the days fly by, I’m sitting here waiting for something good to happen, hoping that it’s just gonna appear out of thin air, like some Ricky Jay sleight of hand. Here’s your card, Larry, it’s an ace job that pays a lot of money! Fuck you again, magic, for not being real!

Now I see why this practice should be done first thing in the morning. I’m already too beat to go on and none of this makes any sense and, yes, Julia, I know that’s the fuckin’ point (she can be so annoying sometimes), and every few minutes I look at the word count to see if I’m coming close to my three pages, and it’s like I’m on a Soul Cycle bike, pedaling away like a demon trying to make it to the 1,000 words finish line. Don’t stop, don’t stop, don’t stop. Keep pedaling, keep typing. This sucks. I suck.

I’m just so bummed out today because of Rob. What else is new? He knows that I worry about him but has no idea that I get like this. Every time I need to intervene on his behalf or just communicate with him in general, I get this sick feeling of anxiety in the pit of my stomach and it stays with me for the entire day. Even when I was signing him up for health insurance a few hours ago so we could get him anti-depressants, I was feeling it, and he has no idea that he has this soul-crushing effect on me. It’s such a shitty feeling and I stay in this shitty headspace for the rest of the day and then infect Maura with it, which makes me feel even shittier. This just in: “shit” has almost replaced “fuck” as my favorite word. Almost.

Tomorrow is another day (I just made that up!) and I’ll try to knock this out first thing in the morning like Julia wants me to and see if my mood is any better and see if anything happens on the job front or really on any front. I never know what tomorrow will bring, but I do know that I need to make things happen rather than waiting around for the phone to ring. But today, I just can’t, so I’m gonna let it go and hope for the best and all the other things you’re supposed to hope for. And it’s a good thing no one will ever read this shit because I’m really a fuckin’ mess today. Bye.

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