Monkey Mind, Heat and Elvis Costello

You’d think since I’m a summer baby, I’d be at home in the heat. Truth is, I hate hot – that kind of “Africa hot” Neil Simon describes in "Biloxi Blues." I always wanted to be one of those hearty souls who never owned air conditioning, happy to coexist with hot and humid like it was a lover, wearing a low-cut sundress with my hair pulled back in a messy mass while dripping sweat from my forehead and sipping iced tea in the dark on my porch watching fireflies in the hydrangeas. But I’m not. While I’d prefer to live in real air, when it’s 92 and humid, air conditioning feels mighty nice.

As much of a Gore-loving democrat as I am, I love air conditioning, as non “green” as that is. And that makes me feel guilty. But unlike the heat, I’m good at guilt. I can navigate guilt. I’m a Norwegian and I grew up a Lutheran. I feel guilty when I throw water on a centipede in my shower and force him down the drain. I recover by convincing myself that the little guy went to Centipede Heaven. It’s somewhere in the Bible.

Guilt and heat are not what I intended as subjects for this blog. I hate it when I get distracted while I’m writing. I drift in the abstract, monkey mind, writing whatever and thinking it needs to be “out there.” Maybe it’s too much wine. Maybe it’s the wine and the heat. Maybe it’s my dogs lying at my feet and breathing hot doggie breath on my ankles. Or it could be Santana. “She’s Not There” is a great song and it’s on the satellite radio right now and I’m thinking it needs to be on my iPod for tomorrow’s workout.

Speaking of iPods, I am one happy former Minnesotan, my friends. Finally, Garrison Keillor’s “News From Lake Wobegon” from A Prairie Home Companion is a podcast. Apparently it has been for a few months because I downloaded 15 weeks of news this morning. It’s almost like discovering orgasms. It’s not like life wasn’t good before you felt that feeling, but it’s so much better after the surprise. 

I’m also very happy that, after waiting for what seems like ever, iTunes finally had Elvis Costello’s song “Pump It Up” for download last week (how the hell does he move his ankles like that and where did that hottie drummer come from?). I was all over that song like flies on Brussels sprouts, and it now follows “Pump It” by the Black Eyed Peas on my iPod. Work out those thighs.

It’s hot. I feel guilty. I’m happy about the state of my iPod. I’ll wake up tomorrow and work out and write again and I think I have a lunch date with a friend and that’s life in my monkey mind right now.

However…..

You know how when you know you’re going to throw up, how you get all sweaty and your mouth waters and your stomach cramps? Yeah, well, that’s how writing is for me tonight. I’m not physically ill, but I feel another tangent coming on. I just can’t turn my mind off.

That link I have on “monkey mind” two paragraphs ago is an interview with Natalie Goldberg, one of my favorite writing writers. I met Natalie Goldberg when I was a junior in high school (circa 1979) in my poetry class. She gave a little talk about writing, had us free write for 10 minutes, and then listened, patiently, as we read our 16- and 17-year-old dramatic thoughts and angst-ridden poetry. She’s a Buddhist, but a saint nonetheless. Then sometime in the early 1990s when I was in college at Augsburg, Natalie’s book “Writing Down the Bones” was one of the texts we used in my fiction writing class. If you’re an aspiring writer or just want to free your thoughts on to paper, Natalie’s book is a good place to start.

Argh!! I want my mind to stop now. No more monkey. I want to be normal, go upstairs and go to bed. The air is on in my bedroom, and of course I’ll feel a little guilty, but it’s time for my mind to rest. I have some early morning iPod listening to do at the gym. Pump it up, baby.

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