First I thought my feet were stuck in the mouth of a snow monster. Yes, I know, don't ask. Then I thought I somehow managed to stick a foot out of the train window, and the horror of this idea is what woke me up. No, my feet were okay, there were just very cold. I'm staying in an old haunted (it totally is haunted, just look at it) rowhouse, and the insulation is something that is of short supply here. I sat up, reeling. Then I thought, no, I'm not reeling, it's my brain. It's sloshing around in my skull after it got used to the train and its constant motion.
So, just as I was, in pajamas, I got up, got my coffee (thanks Jacquelyn Delcamp and Kristina Castro, you wonderful hosts!), and started writing. The room was cold, and that was good, it kept me awake. The adorable little pooch by the name of Jazz sat on my lap and kept me warm. I had a hard time starting. You know why? I missed the scenery flashing by the window. There came with it a sense of timelessness, a perpetual movement, and it had a soothing effect and a purpose. Sitting idle didn't feel like procrastinating, it felt like doing something useful.
"Hey, I'm crossing gorgeous veldts and silvery rivers and coombs and dales and slicing through the sloping shoulders of the mountains! I'm doing important work!"
And suddenly writing didn't seem scary anymore. I don't know if it's because I belonged to a bigger purpose (a train getting passengers to a destination) or if it's because the decadent romance of gazing out the window did inspire me, but I found that writing was easy. Easier than when I wrote today, in a room, stationary.
When I got done writing my daily chapter, Sean Dennison, one of my readers, picked me up to have tea at Russian Tea Time, where we drank a barrel of vodka, swam in borscht, and then climbed on the roof of the building and—okay, no, we didn't do that, but you can blame this sentence on my imagination. We ate, we had a good time (thank you, Sean, I'm still stuffed as I'm writing this!), and then I went to Art Institute of Chicago and got blown out of my socks by the abundance of art that nearly made me cry. Seriously.
I stood in front of one of Monet's grainstacks paintings and thought, "Here is an artist who took time to show people the beauty of what he saw by painstakingly repeating the same motif over and over again to get it right." And then I thought, "Writing is the same thing. It's why we writers write. We feel beauty and we want to share it, but we obsess over every word because we want people to read it just right."
After this I was unable to do anything else but to make it back to the haunted house, thinking about the train ride tomorrow (I rode the metro train and realized how much I missed it). It will be a longer voyage this time. I'm hopping on Texas Eagle and going from Chicago to Los Angeles, traversing St. Louis, Dallas, and San Antonio on the way. I will be on the train for 65 hours, that's four days and three nights! Adventure continues. Get ready for more pictures and stories.