Wednesday, March 19, 2008

I used to be a writer...

You know, when I try to think of what to tell people that I want to be when I "grow up" I still find myself saying I want to write. And it's true. So why am I not doing it? Why am I not pouring amazing literature out during my every free moment? Why am I just basking in the glow of people saying "You write so well! Have you ever considered writing?" To which I must naturally reply, "Why yes, that is what I do after all."
But do I? Do I actually write? Am I really still a writer? Besides the occasional blog or e-mail update, and the hours I spend pouring out my every thought and passing moment in my journal, do I still write?
The sad truth is, it's been a long, long, LONG time since I produced anything even vaguely akin to literature. There was a three year gap in my poetry journal. And I've only added a scant three poems to it this year. Have I lost the ability to create, to captivate?
I've recently been reading Rebecca's blog on a regular basis, and have longed to have such incredible posts to call my own. Perhaps it is partly a lack of stimulating subject matter, or maybe it's just the fact that I've lost the ability to see it. I still live in a place that, to most of you, is practically like science fiction. A place still recovering from the toll taken by the communist government, not to mention all the other governments that have held power over these people. I'm sitting now in a small cafe looking out at Spalicek, a group of houses once owned by Jews who were brutally murdered centuries ago, for reasons now long forgotten. The street outside my window is cobbled, the buildings around the square painted in pastel shades of pink, blue, yellow and orange, well suited to the upcoming Easter holiday. There is snow on the ground. We've had a rather freak storm for the past couple of days. My students have been telling me for the past month that, with each weekend, we are facing the last cold days of winter. Instead we've been experiencing a relapse of that frigid time of year. The "flakes" which more resemble really wet cottonwood offerings, float through the air mysteriously as though they somehow realize they are inappropriate.
I walk to work every day past a horrible smelling manhole that must clearly open into the sewer, and have to hold my breath to escape the fumes. A few minutes later I pass a factory that often smells like burning tires where I try to make eye contact with the dogs so they know they won't get a laugh out of surprising me with their vicious barking. They truly are a devious pair. One day completely unconcerned with my existence, the next, noting my inattention and waiting until I'm right next to them before barking their little brains out. I continue on, check the time and temperature, and hike up the hill that tends to make me sweat whether it is -6 or not.(That'd be in Celsius of course.) I continue past Listopadu 17 (a building that always makes me smile because it means November 17 which is my birthday for those not in the know) and walk down Evropska, or Europe Street, where you can often spot the prostitutes hanging out on the corners waiting for German tourists at all hours of the day or night. Past the wobbly scaffolding where the men are currently tearing all the siding off an ancient building which will soon be replaced by something that looks like Styrofoam and will later be painted some pastel color like the rest of the town. I continue down the street past several cigarette stands, bars, and casinos to "hypernova" over which Winfield College sits.
Somehow in this recounting I've forgotten to mention the people I pass. They are a random mix of 14 year olds smoking cigarettes they really aren't supposed to be able to buy, women with hair ranging from bleach blond with a black under layer, to the most shocking shades of fuschia and red or a combination of all of these with some blue and pink mixed in - and I'm not just talking about young women, but women of literally every age! - wearing real fur coats that have possibly been passed on for generations, or clothes clearly from the 80s that match nicely with their 80s mullets. There are also so many men out walking babies in the most amazing strollers you have ever seen. I mean, these strollers are really made for walking. The tires are burlier than those of Alaskan SUVs in winter! In this country women are allowed up to three years of paid maternity leave with their jobs guaranteed at the end of the time, and the men are also allowed to take time as well, although I'm not certain of exactly how long. And so we see them walking the babies, and it is so nice. Of course not all their habits with babies are very nice. We have also seen them leave their babies in their very nice strollers outside of stores. It would never be allowed in the US, but here no one seems to mind here at all.
Well, it seems that the game has finished, so I need to head back to the office. So maybe I can still write, but it would be nice if someday it would amount to more than random thoughts online or in books never meant to be read by anyone but me.

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