Monday, December 4, 2017

Keegan Lester : my (small press) writing day

There was a time where my day started around 8:15, with my partner ironing her work clothes on top of the comforter over my sleeping body because we live in a small apartment with four people and no ironing board.  But waking up day after day, blurry eyed to a hot, rogue, iron going back and forth over my body, which would then be beneath a comforter used at an ironing board, helped me decide to change up my routine. So I decided to change up my routine.

Now my partner and I wake up at the same time around 715.  I make coffee which is crucial because I am dead to the world before I drink at least two cups.  I get that from my mother.  We don’t have a coffee machine so I have to make a pot of pour over which takes a little bit of time, so I am often bumping into things semi-conscious until the pour over is finished.  It can be a tease too, because I have to heat the water and then pour it and then wait for it to soak the coffee and then pour it and then wait and then pour it and then wait some more. This whole time I’m dead to the world, while my partner makes her lunch asking me questions which I am at that moment not able to answer as I am dead to world. I couldn’t even tell you what today's questions were hard as I try because I’m literally and figuratively dead to the world at that moment. 

By the time I have my coffee my partner normally asks “How do I look,” which I respond “Beautiful like a grandma,” because she has a tendency to dress like a grandma, and since grandmas tend to be my favorite people in the world, I can say this every morning without lying.  Then I walk her to the elevator say goodbye and she goes off to work.  It’s now about 830.

Now I’m drinking coffee, usually with my partner’s mother who’s sits across from me at the table and we have this really beautiful view of the Hudson and as I try to wake up, often boats will decide now is the opportune time to pass by my partner’s mother and me and she will say “OH, MY, look at that boat,” and then I’ll look up from trying to catch up with twitter scandals and lit mags to see a small beautiful boat going either up or down the Hudson. Sometimes she will grab her binoculars and sometimes she’ll grab her camera.  But she's always real excited when boats pass and every morning feels like Christmas because of her excitement.  Then it’s about 9:30 and I’m checking Wiki Creative Writing jobs to make sure my chances of ever being hired for a teaching position is still hovering just above zero in the 3/5 percent range. 
Then I get to writing.

Lately I’ve been revising my collection of short story/essays from tenish to one thirty, at which point my partner usually calls me during her lunch break and we talk about nothing but in a way that makes her feel better about going back to her job after her lunch break.  I say things like, “I wish you could have seen the sailboat your mom took a picture of,” or “you are fierce, go back into that office and kick butt,” often in more long-winded and abstract way, having the confidence of a football coach, because I usually am sport youtubing right around lunch.

I continue working on essays and then later my second collection of poems, which no self-respecting press will ever publish. It used to be a collection comprised of funny observations I’ve been making over the years, but the last seven or eight months have really beat the humor out of anything useful in any kind of art I might be capable of at the moment.  Then I try to go to the gym around four because if I don’t exercise I become a bad human.  After exercise, my head is often cleared.  I try to revise a little more until 8pm, usually at that point, I’m sharing the living room with my partner and her mom who are watching fun television shows like Antiques Road Show, Below Deck, The Weather Channel Storm Watcher and Younger.  I’ve very much been taken with the television program Younger.  I also like the kind portrayal of a character from West Virginia who happens to live in New York, because that’s unheard of.  So thank you writers of the television program Younger.  

I usually spend my entire day eating drinking and writing in my one chair at the table looking out the window trying to write new things and sometimes I succeed and many, many times I fail.  Now that I have two projects and maybe a secret third, it makes working a little easier because when one project feels annoying or tired, I can procrastinate from it with the other.  I’m really best at writing when procrastinating from other writing.  Then late at night, I go to Columbia University to play basketball, and while I’m not very good at basketball and stand at about five-seven, it’s important that I’m there running into people larger than me, trying to set screens, I think.

And then a little here and there, new poems come about.  Often when I’m procrastinating from doing chores like cleaning my room or the dishes or something, and I’ll say “Hey, I’m working on something really important here,” and then the poem that I’m working on has to be really good or important because I’m using it as an excuse to not do the things I’m supposed to be doing, like chores or leaving the apartment.

And then I watch The Daily Show with my partner’s mom.  And then I go to bed and play the New York Times mini crossword puzzle with my partner in our pajamas.  We’re a pretty good mini crossword puzzle team. 

Then we watch something like Bojack, get all good and depressed and figure out how to get done what we need to get done for tomorrow.  And then with the lights off, we end up talking to each other in the dark for an hour as if we were two kids at camp until one of us drifts off and the other goes back to thinking, am I more Bojack or Princess Carolyn or Diane or…

Keegan Lester is a writer living in New York City.  He is the author of the collection of poetry this shouldn't be beautiful but it was and it was all i had so i drew it.  His poetry and prose has appeared or will appear in such places as: The Journal, Hobart, Poem A Day, The Boston Review and Sixth Finch, among others.

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