“Nobody is allowed to read the morning pages except you”¦Ideally, stick them in a large manila envelope, or hide them somewhere”¦Although occasionally colorful, the morning pages are often negative,” Julia Cameron, “The Artist’s Way”
SECRET, PRIVATE, DO NOT OPEN OR YOU WILL GET NUCLEAR COOTIES!!!
There was my mother converted into stone, the powdery, moldy gray-green color and texture of cheddar cheese left for months in the back of the fridge. Hair lines criss-crossed her body where blocks had been cut with laser precision. A soccer player, a jersey-clad waif, runs and bounces the ball off one of the stony flanks. “Ouch,” she cries; the pieces fall into a Cubistic jumble. Now we are wandering through the monsoon-swept streets of Venice, France looking for a post office. We will send my mother home by parcel post. A phrase runs through my head, Dismember to remember. That seems possibly significant. Fortunately all the stone pieces are numbered. They are packed and mailed. Everything arrives safely in Ohio, except her beard.
Oh my, eureka, I get it, blocks of stone”¦ creative blocks!…The connection is so obvious”¦The enemy of art is self-consciousness. The stultifying sense of being watched (by mother) tantamount to having every instant of my life videotaped and reflected almost instantaneously by this cracked, judgmental mirror has stymied my efforts to be a Da Vinci or an L. Ron Hubbard. Even now, placing these pages in a padlocked box, inside a double-sealed manila envelope, is a reflection of a childhood endured under excruciating surveillance. Now I glory in the secret pages, so reluctantly embraced, to be free from the Hays Office of Mother. The purpose of these ravings is to kill the Censor. In these hard times, with jobs being scarce and all, I do feel badly putting the Censor out of work, but QuÃ© serÃ¡.
I had a dream that my mother turned into a red snapper, and I impaled one of its eyes with a toothpick. Eye = I = ego. This is an overwhelming insight.
Her face crumpled by emotion, Mom retrieved the lined legal pad and tortured me, insisted on reading the whole thing, every last word of my first morning pages. It was agony.
“If your grandmother saw your so-called writing,” she railed, after tossing the pad to the floor, “she’d be rolling over in her grave. You’ve sliced me open on yellow legal paper. Turned me into perfectly interlocking stone blocks.”
“It’s a metaphor. It’s figurative. That person may be called mother, but it’s not YOU.”
“My, what filth, Jordan, you really ought to see a psychiatrist”¦Here you are sticking an ice pick in my eye.”
“I keep trying to say, Ma. This is NOT about you. And it wasn’t an ice pick, it was a toothpick. If you read carefully, you will realize it happened to a fish. Listen, Ma, I took those pages and hid them in a padlocked box. Didn’t you see the nuclear symbol on the box? Didn’t that mean anything to you?”
“Dismemberment, impaling eyes on ice picks. I’m concerned for your mental health.”
“And what do you have to say for yourself about breaking into the padlock?
“The combination was too easy,” mother said. “All zeroes.”
Jordan forgot to call last Mother’s Day. I forgive him. When he forgets about me on a big holiday like this, when all the other good sons take their moms out to dinner and hand them the keys to a Mercedes, he isn’t forgetting the real me. Only a metaphor in his teeming imagination. I make a batch of gingerbread men in Jordan’s likeness. The gingerbread men all march out of the oven like a regiment of toy soldiers. I catch up with one, pluck it from the floor, and bite off its head, metaphorically speaking. The phone rings: Why hello, son, I was just thinking about you”¦Do you know what day it is? … Yes, I know it’s a Sunday”¦Phoenix plays at San Antonio? Wow. You don’t say.
I realize I don’t have a son now: I have an uncaring, insensitive lout (i.e. artist), but if I keep writing these pages of drivel every morning, there will soon be two artistes in the family.