Grid Lines and Aged Scotch

Hemingway drinking and writing

My friend Becca recently moved from a house where she’s lived for decades into a new place, and her writings about the move have me thinking about my own routines.

Next month will be our eighth year in this house. As I just commented on Becca’s blog, it’s the longest I’ve lived anywhere in my entire life, and while I love my house, and really don’t want to go through the temporary hell that is moving, I’m also having periodic bouts of antsy-ness that are getting harder and harder to quell.

I wasn’t meant to live in suburbia, but I’m spoiled by the space we have, and the pool, and the fact that our neighborhood is generally pretty safe. I mean, I don’t hate it, and it certainly isn’t one of those raw, sterile subdivisions, but it’s a lot more white-bread than I really like, and I wish there was a cafe within easy walking distance.

There is nothing like being able to walk your dog to your favorite cafe, grab a latte, and sit outside with the pooch lying near your feet, both of you people- and dog-watching. When we lived in the condo in San Jose, that was part of my routine, as was bringing my dog to work, and grabbing the best ever chicken burritos from the tiny Mexican place on the corner when I didn’t want to have lunch with other people.

Here, my routine is centered on my house. I get into bad habits, like writing in bed all day, instead of going to the Word Lounge, all of 100 feet away. I like working up there, mostly, but I hate having to go all the way back downstairs when my water glass is empty. It’s not the walking up and down that bothers me, but the fact that doing so distracts me from whatever creative flow I’ve got going.

Then again, most days I have to finish all my work before I shower, or THAT will ruin my creative flow.

Routines can be helpful things, but I don’t like mine to be so rigid that I feel trapped. I prefer broad frameworks, not tiny grid squares (and, in fact, I take perverse delight in buying pads of graph paper, and writing bad poetry across the squares, paying no attention to the lines). I like guidelines. I hate rules.

More and more, I’m convinced that great authors – Dorothy Parker, Hemingway, Fitzgerald, etc. – drank so much because the alcohol buzzed forced the lines to go down and the creative walls to tumble into dust.

I don’t drink that much, or terribly often, because I have little tolerance for alcohol, but there are days when I can completely see the appeal. Sometimes I find that funny.

But sometimes, it scares me.