Notes on Nada

Some days it takes an hour or two to simply write a paragraph. This isn’t necessarily bad writing. More often for me, it’s thinking writing. It’s when I don’t have a clear picture in my head of what I’m trying to say or I don’t have a clear path to saying it. So I simply write, barf it all out on the page. Slowly points emerge, phrasings, but no structure. But the points and phrases start to show how they should connect. Then I have to go back and pick out those points and reorganize, essentially create a new outline but with more material to pick from. I’m in the middle of that right now for two different pieces. They both became more than I thought they would. It happens.

But after happening twice in a row, I’m a little outlined out. Spilling thoughts that you know go together but you’re not sure how can wear you down pretty quick. Until you’re finally left with only wanting to bang out nice, semi-decent work on the first try. But nothing like that comes. You know you need to let the more complicated pieces ferment for a bit. And in the meantime…

Last night I reached my limit. I needed to write something else. But all my mind would do was jump between the other two pieces. Stupid mind. What good are you if you don’t make words? Maybe my mind just needed some help. A little nudge. I looked around. My setting was all wrong. The A/C wall unit roared. Too loud. My desk was far from the A/C. Too hot. It was also too bright. It was getting muggy outside under the grey clouds that had been promising rain all day, but they hadn’t kept their promise. The ceiling fan squeaked and chirped. I need to call the landlord to fix that. I can’t find my pen. Too early to eat. I decided to adjust my surroundings and make them more conducive to coming up with a new, simpler idea.

I cleaned the clutter off the counter. Laid out my notebook. Cleaned the rough drafts of the other pieces from my desk. Closed two hundred and twenty-six windows on my computer. The sun was still above the buildings but starting to edge down to the horizon. The clouds combined with the lower sun to darken the sky more than normal for that time of day. Good. I could adjust the indoor lights now. I can’t write if it’s too bright, or so I say when I simply can’t write. Lights turned down. Distractions gone. Pen in hand. Pen in hand. Pen in hand. Pen in hand.

I called the girlfriend, currently in New York. Good talk. Always is. During our conversation, it grew darker outside and the wind started to pick up. “I think it’s going to rain,” I told her. I opened the windows. It was quite cooler now. I turned off the A/C. Lights, noise, and temperature down. That should help. I hung up the phone, looked back outside.

The first drops started falling. Then they fell faster, harder. The sky darkened even more, but because of the clouds not the sun setting. Flashes started to light up the clouds. Small rumbles groaned through the city, grumbled around the skyscrapers, and mumbled down the alley. The rain picked up. Large drops of water slid down the underside of the powerlines strung between the pole outside my window and my building. They glistened silver as one by one they careened to the lowest droop of the cable, paused, then were nailed by another drop so they both fell to the ground. The neverending splash of water began to run from the building drain pipes. Crack-k-k-kack-boom! The thunder was getting louder and more frequent. The sky lit up here, then there, then here again, then over a different there. Hail joined the rain to add some snare cracks to the constant cymbals of slashing rain.

I grabbed a beer and stepped out under the covered walkway to look and listen. The same symphony met my ears but went from mezzo-piano to fortissimo. Now the wind brushed my face in between the rain splatter kisses. Another thunder clap made me jump; it hurt my ears. It scared a murder of crows from a nearby tree, and they flew off in the downpour like the silhouettes of souls unsure of their final destination. Pinks and clinks of hail bounced off the iron patio furniture in the courtyard below. I sipped my beer and enjoyed the storm. The lightening continued to close in. The flashes were right above me now. More thunder that felt more like someone clapping my ears than the clouds. I finished my beer and went back inside. The symphony dropped back down to mezzo-piano. My apartment was cool now. The lights just right. The mood was struck. I turned on some music. It couldn’t be more perfect when a song, called Nada, about someone riding into a desert storm, entered the room on a whining harmonica:

I see the lightning from the storm down in Mexico…
I cross the desert, disappear into the tumbleweeds…

I picked up my pen:
It was a dark and stormy night.
It was a dark, stormy night.

I hear the thunder from the storm down in Mexico…
I feel the dust coat my teeth and turn my sweat to mud…

It was a stormy and dark night.
It was a stormy, dark night.

There ain’t no moral to this story at all,
And anything I tell you very well could be a lie…
I’m just waiting for that cold, black…

The night was dark and stormy.
The night was stormy and dark.
The night was darkly stormy.

I feel the wind blow from the storm down in Mexico…
I cross the river, leave my shoes upon the other side…

The dark night was stormy.
The stormy night was dark.

There ain’t no moral to this story at all,
And anything I tell you very well could be a lie…
I’m just waiting for that cold, black, sun-cracked…

The night stormed darkly.
The night darkly stormed.

I feel the raindrops from the storm down in Mexico…
I walk through the desert, past a lizard and a rattlesnake…

The stormy night darkened.
The dark night stormed.

There ain’t no moral to this story at all…
And everything I tell you, you can bet will be a lie…
I’m just waiting for that cold, black, sun-cracked, numb-inside soul of mine…

Pen down. Fuck this. I’m grabbing a whiskey.


(NB: Nada is a song by The Refreshments. Great song, and surprisingly for most pop music, it also makes for a good poem. You can listen to it here if you’re interested.)

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One Comment:

  1. Courtney Montague

    👍🏼

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