The Coffee is always cold (page 10)

Fall Notebook 2013

Note: These writings and pages are not edited as much as my novel and book work is. I think in many ways it is not so much lacking order, but rather it’s a different kind of writing, and is just as important to the artist, as the discipline of the printed word. 

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The beautiful mess and my dirty hands. That city or this city. Either interstate or on the lake. It doesn’t change anything. Until I drop dead, no matter where I am living, the press comes with me.

I work. That’s what I do. There are no days off. No matter where you are, it’s always hard work.

Ideas. This is what this place is for. Words and thoughts that get you up and ready to go. You always end up back asleep. Sometimes when you get closer to the end, it seems that you don’t want the end to come. The end gets further away. It’s always like that. At least it is, for me.

And my hands are tools. Tools to help and tools to write. Tools for fixing cars and tools for making books. I like working outside. I changed some back brakes today. Newer car. Never taken care of. I did the front ones before and there wasn’t even a back pad on the passenger side. It was loud.

The car was clean on the outside, but it was an old dying car where most people don’t look. The rust was stubborn and of course since I’m out of town I didn’t have my tools. My metal tin is organized. Well it’s a mess still, but it’s all there. I know where everything is. This tool set. Everywhere. Under fish hooks and bullets. It was all there, it just took some time.

This and that. Making tools out of tools. A tire iron and a screw bit. The names of tools…I don’t know all of them. I can think about it, take a step back and walk around, say what would work, yeah, give me that.

Sometimes it takes longer than expected. This is usually the case with anything you initially believe will be easy. I said two hours. That’s how long. No, tools broke in half. I was bending metal and it was dark. Another note: Never try to fix cars in the dark. Flashing lights hanging from strings are not the same as actual sun light. That’s just some advice. You can do whatever you want.

When I first started fixing cars I was afraid the car was going to fall on me. I couldn’t believe that one little jack could hold up the metal elephant. It does. Well, maybe it could fall on you, but you have to forget about getting crushed by the weight of the ride. You have to get it done.

Started at 8. It’s midnight. I’m not an auto shop, not a rich man. It seems that even the rich man wants to take short cuts these days. Most people don’t want to spend the money to fix the car at the shop. I do it because I like to do it. I like to help people and do something with my hands, figure things out from scratch. Fixing cars is like making books by hand. Paper folding and struggling as you place the tire back on. Gluing and bounding is tightening the lug nuts. Books and auto work. It’s very much alike but different. As in, one is with something I didn’t make, and the other was an invention of the mind. I always think that’s neat. Everything in the books came from my mind, the finished product couldn’t have existed without the writing. It’s a small joy in a very complicated world. That’s what I do with my life. Sometimes it makes me happy, and sometimes I don’t have time to think about happiness, because I have to work.

And so now it’s five thirty in the morning. It took me almost six hours to change the brakes. That’s a long time. It really matters what tools you have. Time can move quicker if you have the power. But if you don’t, you can always improvise, spontaneously, because you know it will get done. I never thought I was defeated. The people I’m sure thought they were going to have to bring it to the shop. They didn’t. I said I’ll get it done if it takes me all night. By the end of the night I was tired and my back hurt and I couldn’t even take a smoke break because my body hurt so much. My pain was my reward. I had to get it done and that’s what I did. I loosened the right parts, followed what I knew, and the tire was back on, the car was lowered, the test run was great, the car was no longer embarrassing for the driver, the squeak was silenced and now was smooth. They were happy. I was beat down and… happy.

The mess of life and the car is fixed. My hands were dirty and instead of sand, a fallen leaf was grinding between back teeth. It was cold but healthy. I said some bad words and I laughed more than anything else. It wasn’t all car thoughts. I was thinking about life and my book the whole time, and now, after short sleep I’m reading to get dirty again. Only this time, it’s the story, the last month of working on a novel, a bunch of words that have been part of my life for so long. The end is close. It was a great experience. It took forever and now it’s the fall. Try and get home again in the morning.Try to get down south again before the Michigan winter. I’m not made for the cold. I’m made for a tree house in the jungle.

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Now back. The characters wait. The Unknown Man from Toronto Ontario. It’s getting closer and I’m tired. I’m not home. Three hours of the tap…tap…tap. Then I sleep and forget about everything.

Thank you for reading. After almost two weeks I did little organizing. This is going to be a process. That was always the plan. Peace. 

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