Yesterday I saw the new shrink a second time. His name is Martin. He dresses neatly, everything tucked in carefully. He is slim and narrow. I bet he jogs. He manages to blend friendliness, intelligence, interest, questions within very distinct boundaries. His waiting room is New York City narrow, lamps, a couple small tables, a couple of comfortable but not too comfortable chairs – wooden furniture, sort of classy antiquey upper West Sidey, but not ostentatious. The magazines are up to date and lined up perfectly: Harpers, the New Yorker. I love the chair I get to sit in while I talk to him. I think it’s made of leather with a high back, wide enough to sit cross-legged and an ottoman to put your feet on. You can pretty much sit in any position in that chair.
It was hard day for me. Felt like I was battling uphill through the city everywhere I went. It was raining and cold. I didn’t have the right coat. Its wool was good for cold but useless for wet. I scrambled with the tiny umbrella, the violin case and the small bag that held everything else. Worst of all I wore the wrong shoes. Too small, and everywhere I had to go seemed blocks and blocks away from the subway stations.
I have turned my back on my mother. That’s what it feels like. My mother of the $20 bills, of the three $100 bills to go to Hungary with. Even Fred was touched by that. I imagine her wondering what she did wrong. I imagine her thinking I’m bad and ungrateful and too big for my boots.
Yesterday I met a man who I’ve known peripherally for a few years. I’ve never liked him much, but he’s familiar and friendly and we say hi a couple times a year. He used to call himself a jewelry designer, but he always seemed like a small-time business man to me. Once or twice I saw a piece of “jewelry” he had “designed” – hideous, ugly, machine-made. Anyway, I ran into him yesterday morning, both of us getting on the New York City bus on a mid-week day when the tickets are cheaper and he said business was bad and he was thinking of taking a workshop with me and Fred. “Years ago,” he said, settling down in his seat across the aisle from me, “back in the sixties, I had an idea for a screenplay, and someone passed on the idea to Ron Howard, and Ron wanted to see a treatment, but of course, I never wrote it.” He’s a little trim man with graying baby-boomer hair who wears pressed jeans and could even be handsome if he had a different personality. “I’ve always thought I was a good writer,” he continued, “though I haven’t been TRAINED ~ so I thought maybe I’d take your course and write that screenplay.”
“We’re pretty anti-training,” I said pretty quickly. I wanted to set him straight real fast. We’re not a place to come do that screenplay you’ve been meaning to do for years, we’re not a place to come when you want to make some money quick – I didn’t say that – I talked about ART and PERSONAL writing and as I spoke I started thinking about the energy that is created when you write, when you make the commitment to write down what you know, and in the process of writing – of choosing what to say and what words to use – not choosing in the sense of thinking about it, but choosing the way you do when you write, moving quickly, taking this path not that one -- there’s a friction between all that could be written and what you actually choose to write, and I think that friction really is life-giving in some way. I didn’t say all that, but I was thinking it. I hadn’t thought of it quite like that before. Ric said that sounded great and started making cell phone calls.