I woke up with a head cold. I used this contraption that resembles a baby bottle: its nipple has a spout that shoots hot water through a nostril and the water shoots out the other nostril. I filled the bottle with sea salt before plunging my nose with the hot water. The snot drained out of my nose and washed into the bathroom drain. Then my head was full of water, so I blew the rest of the water from my nose and unclogged my ears. The congestion cleared for a few hours.
I visited a shrink after three years. A lot had changed since then. He had since moved his practice into his own home. I felt odd, walking to the front door knowing that he both lived and shrunk heads there. His office was in a guest room next to the front door. The secretary left us alone in the room. It'd been three years since we last met, and so he stared back at me and I'd nothing to say. A lot of ground to cover but nowhere to start. Then a brown and black cat leapt onto a chair and stared at me. Now I had to two things staring at me.
"I want to start seeing you again."
"Because the other shrink is bad."
"What's so bad about him?"
"He called me an ostrich that buries his head in the sand."
"And you didn't like that?"
"I pay him good money. I was hoping for something deeper."
"Hold that thought," he said, and he stood up and left the office. He'd been gone for five to seven minutes and walked back in like he'd just taken a shit. I forgot what I was saying, so I started over. The shrink was old. He started nodding off as I was talking about my taxes. The cat was licking his paws.
After the visit, I drove to the nearest coffee shop where I could sit and write. Because of too much chit-chat inside, I sat at a table outside. Sitting outside is fine, except for the glare on the monitor. I'd write five pages, refill the coffee cup, light a cigarette and continue. This is what I want to do for the time I have left. No mortgage. No kids. No Cancun. Just simple. Sit at a table, smoke, drink and write. I stayed for four hours, until some applicant at Starbucks started asking me what I was writing. I had to find someplace else.
I drove back home, lay in bed and read a book. The quiet air outside depressed me. What was left in life to enjoy? The TV was across the room, but it was only good for filling the dead air. People mistake distractions for entertainment. I could've run the vacuum or the lawnmower in the room; anything to drown out the real atmosphere.
I couldn't even finish a page before falling fast asleep. A phone call woke me up. The right people never call anymore. Here was some leach telling me that I could make $2,000 a day at home and for doing nothing; I told him that I was already doing it but still waiting for my money. I hung up before he could explain. People only bother when they can take money from you. Otherwise they leave you alone. Except for the criminally insane. At least they see something of more value in you.
After I couldn't fall back asleep, I visited my mailbox. Another issue of the writer's magazine had come. I wanted to sit on the toilet and read the articles. It was more of the same. These magazines contain 100 pages of articles that discourage you from submitting work for publication. Either they interview agents and editors who say they don't have time for you or some grad student with a fellowship who'd just released a new novel. These successful writers of today look nothing like the writers of old. Plain and simple, they're nerds, and not even the engaging tortured outcast nerds; but the overachieving rich nerds whose work is something uptight and unappealing. The men always have an intense look with uneven facial hair, looking either too underweight or overweight; while the women are overeducated bombshells hiding behind thick-rimmed glasses. And that type would be fine if they weren't the only ones. Exactly what happened to the writers to empathize with? Why emphasize with an author from a prestigious college who landed a book deal right after graduation? Who can relate to that? Bring back the dead beats or the deranged lunatics who can only write in fragments.