Time capsule

5 May 2009

One year ago today, I was in Cape Cod; it was raining; I was in an armchair sat in front of the fireplace, taking breaks to get more wood or add newspaper or kindling, move the embers around, build & rebuild it while it burned.

In that chair, over three days, I wrote or revised 165-odd pages of academia, illustrated performance art notes, my BFA thesis in fiction, etc. – undergraduate flotsam. (I owe my being spirited out of Boston in the dead of night & placed in front of that fire to this man, who probably saved my degree.) I was so close to not finishing that I actually figured out the number of words I’d have to write per hour to make all of my page counts & tacked up an unsteadily markered list of hourly targets, which I proceeded to cross off, with wholly uncharacteristic thoroughness. It was an odd, concentrated sort of time to be alive, & to the extent I remember it it’s with a distant kind of disbelief.

Surviving as evidence of my state of mind are a series of increasingly fragmented & desperate facebook statuses posted in late April & the first week of May.

I present them here, in narrative chronological order, for your edification & for the sake of posterity.

Status updates, April-May ’08

18 April – Jim is facing between two and five administrative obstacles to graduation.

22 April – Jim is reading about Alaskan telegraph operators, the NKVD, Lear, dementia, jazz, & Chilean mountains.

23 April – Jim is reading about Brooklyn, street musicians covering Dylan, the Dunkirk evacuation, and polka dots.

28 April – Jim is writing about dead jazz saxophonists, speaking the Spanish, drinking rye & bitters, and dying of jaundice & terror.

29 April – Jim is writing about South American tin mining, rock gardens, sudden rainstorms, shipwrights, laurel leaves, and demolished brick buildings.

30 April – Jim is writing/reading about catalogues, Greek warfare, overalls, swallowtails, James Agee, invisible cities, yams, Borges, groves of trees, & marble.

1 May – Jim is writing about Eastie, museum guards, the long view, Trojan ships, old pump organs, Mason jars, Chinese Imperial encyclopedias, endings.


3 May – Jim is breakfasting on english muffins spread with red rasberry preserves, fried Vermont ham, eggs over easy, and endless cups of coffee.

– Jim is lunching on homemade chili, strogonoff, & garlic bread. Endless, endless cups of cofffee. Writing to save his own life.

– Jim has 23,000 words to write in the next 36 hours.

– Jim is simultaneously imbibing Corona, homemade steak & egg burritos, coffee, and a waffle with ice cream & hot fudge. 45 pages down. 56 to go.

4 May – Jim is walking dripping from a sea-journey on a highway across American in tears to the door of a cottage in the Western night.

– Jim is 19,804 words down; 8,000 to go.

– Jim is 22,890 words down. 5,650 to go.

5 May – Jim is 24,926 words down. 2,000 to go.

– Jim is writing about Italian futurists, mimesis, lotus-eaters, Polyphemus, Aztec priests, tattoo artists, American Spirit cigarettes,and the end of all things.

– Jim is writing about majordomos, snake eaters, Italian watercooled machine-guns, Norse ravens, green apples, & postage stamps.

– Jim is writing typewriter choruses, endless lists of four-numeral numbers, clementine peels, hieroglyphs, bronze masks, augury, Delphic tripods, and yes, endings.

– Jim is 25,796 words down. 1,345 to go.


6 May – Jim is 28,791 words & this shit is DOWN.

7 May – Jim is whiskeyed into accomplishment.

One Response to “Time capsule”

  1. Roman Says:

    That was a great weekend of binge writing. We should do that again this summer, after the meetings.

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