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What do I write about?

What do I write about? I ask myself as I stare blankly at my computer. Some days writing is so easy. I am totally clear on my subject. I sit at my computer and hammer away. In an hour I am done and off my column goes, flying through the air from my home to the newspaper, silently and invisibly as though in the hands of the speediest angel messenger. But there are days like today when I simply don’t know what to write, how to begin, what to say. I stare at the tall building of dark glass as it flashes its neon lights. It stands haughtily in front of my desk. Still my mind is blank except for one question that bounces like a ball off the cement walls of my head — what do I write about?

Last night I had a beautiful albeit weird dream about one of my daughters who lives abroad now. I dreamt she lived on an island and invited me to come to a party there. I searched for her through crowds of people then suddenly there she was dressed in an old-fashioned nightgown, looking like she was around 15. She had a new baby who was around six months old. She was concerned that he was feeling cold so she picked him up and carried him as she summoned me to come see her house.

Her house was big but miserable on the outside. It looked battered and destroyed by violent storms. There was much broken glass and wood planks nailed to hold things together. It looked like a dark, gray 1950s house running quickly to total ruin. Inside it was equally drab and dark. I followed her up the wooden stairs then I found myself in her bathroom. I turned around and what I saw took my breath away.

She had a wide wall-to-wall mirror over a single white sink built into an equally wide white cabinet. On both sides of the sink and all the way until the walls were tall vanda orchids that were blooming, showing off their wild colors of peach, yellow, lavender, mauve. They were tall and planted on golden wooden trunks. On the counter, between bunches of orchids scattered everywhere, stood her cosmetic bottles.

This is breathtakingly beautiful, I said to her, though she was nowhere around. I touched the orchids and found they were made of metal, maybe copper and gold, and painted with resin, that’s what you use to paint jewelry with. Nevertheless, they looked pert and live. The entire counter was covered with these lovely orchids that went up to the ceiling and all across the counter. I became very proud of my darling daughter for accomplishing this magnificent installation. She had extraordinary taste!

A while later, I woke up and sent her e-mail. I told her of the beautiful dream I had about her. As the day wore on, however, a new thought occurred to me. Did I not once attend a series of seminars on dream analysis? Did I not learn then that all the characters in the dream are you? Maybe the daughter in my dream was me, the baby my new work, the house running to ruin me, aging alone from the point of view of others, but inside my house, my view, is full of secret beauty, of flowers that will not fade but will remain beautiful because I made them of metal. Maybe they represent the jewelry I now make. Yes, I think that’s what the dream means. I hope I did not drive my daughter crazy by telling her the story and applying it to her life. But it can mean both things — her life and mine.

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What’s that? Someone is shouting into a microphone he just turned on. Our office neighbor is testing his sound system. Yesterday I saw him by the elevator and inquired when they would have their next meeting. He said tomorrow. That’s today. This will drive me crazy. Good morning, someone screeches into the mike, giggling somewhat, because of course she knows very well it’s evening, but she is that corny. They sell something. I don’t know what. They share the floor with us though they took so long to move in we got used to the silence. Now suddenly they are here and they make so much noise, so much useless chatter at their meetings. 

There are little children who lean on our glass door and get it all dirty and smudgy. Our office is next door to their lecture and meeting room, obviously. Nobody holds office there during the day but on occasional nights and afternoons and maybe weekends they make so much noise it’s just best for us to get out, go home, go somewhere more quiet.

So I went home with a headache from the noise and still I don’t know what to write about. But anyway, I did write something and to those who read it, thank you for your time. May you have beautiful dreams and quiet neighbors.

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