Oh, favorite of favorites, friend and confidant, I say aloud to the blank page on my desk. (And yes, I do talk to my writing sometimes, or to the person who writes, the one who both is and isn’t me. Am I the only one who does this? It’s kind of embarrassing to admit . . .)
I don’t know what happens to me! Forgive me! Sometimes I avoid you when you are the one I most want to be with. When the truth is, all I want to do is write.
So why don’t you? you ask me. I have no clue.
Take yesterday, for example. For the first time in ages, I had a chance to get back to work. I had a series of empty hours ahead, as inviting as a whole pile of blank pages, just waiting to be filled. I had no errands to run, no vet or doctor’s appointments (God forbid), no phone calls to answer, no cleaning to do (okay, that’s not exactly true, but hey). So what did I do?
I looked in the mirror. Big mistake.
I never like looking in the mirror, esp. now that I am a woman “of a certain age.” And all at once, I decided I needed eyebrows. I know. I know. Clearly, you are correct to point out that I don’t need eyebrows to write poetry. But let me explain . . .
Because just a few days ago, I had never really thought about my eyebrows. Or the lack thereof. I was in the beauty parlor, getting a trim, and the woman in the chair next to mine had just had her eyebrows dyed, and she was drawing on them with a colored pencil. Several ladies began discussing eyebrows.
So what’s the deal with eyebrows? I asked. And one of the women explained, You can’t just have eyebrows these days. You have to dye them and/or draw them in so they look full and shapely. And make your eyes pop. My beautician asked if I wanted my own brows done so I could see my eyes pop. Evidently, popping eyes is a thing now. No thanks, I said. After all, I reasoned, eyebrows are the least of my problems.
But suddenly, a week or so later, when looking at my reflection and thinking of all those nice empty hours ahead, I felt an urgent need for eyebrows. How long could it take to get eyebrows? I sighed, thinking I’d be back home in a jiffy. I drove over to the Ulta Store, plopped myself down at the beauty counter, and announced, I need help. Or rather, I need eyebrows.
A pretty blond girl (she looked about sixteen) proceeded to draw eyebrows on my forehead. She paused now and again, tilting my head back, her index finger under my chin. She said she wasn’t sure about my color. So first she drew yellowish eyebrows on my head that gave the brows a halo. Then taupe—or some kind of drab wintry color. Then brown. Then she drew these amazing dark brown eyebrows—Audrey Hepburn would have been so jealous. Finally she made one brow a chestnut color and the other a kind of dark gold color. I think it’s an either/or question, she said, stepping back, her head cocked to one side as she handed me a mirror. I thought of Keirkegaard’s Either/Or –his contrasting of art and beauty and seduction with a moral imperative. I think his argument was, at least in part, that one could veer too heavily in either direction, and only faith could save you. The leaping faith, or leap to faith (not of faith), he described in another of his indecipherable books.
But in thinking of him, I felt a sudden need for something like faith, or anything other than eyebrows.
So there went all my blank hours. Well, not all of them, but let’s just say, it wasn’t quite the day I’d anticipated. Or the eyebrows. I began wondering if Donald Trump dyes his eyebrows to match his hair. And back at home, when faced with blank pages again, I found myself doodling Donald Trumps instead of writing, thinking that maybe Trump was from a Looking Glass World, that he might be the Orange Queen. It won’t take me long to draw an Orange Queen, I thought . . . And of course, there went another hour.
For me drawing is a major distraction. It’s my first choice form of procrastination. But it’s also a love—more of a puppy love or a flirtation, I suppose, than the real thing. Often it makes me laugh aloud to draw. I’m such a hack. Lately, I’ve been noticing that quite a few other writers have a second love. I wonder if it’s a distraction or a passion. And how it works for them. Nancy Mitchell and Claire Bateman, for example, are two accomplished poets who paint. And I mean seriously paint. Maybe I will talk about them in a future post . . .
Nin Andrews’ most recent chapbook, Our Lady of the Orgasm, was published by MatHat in 2016.