Wednesday, October 24, 2012

private property

It's high security around here.
Last night the only poet (surprisingly) in residence said that he got turned around a lot on the trails that loop through MacDowell’s three hundred acres.

“At first I concluded that all the roads lead back to the same place. But I was on one for a while, and it spit me out on the paved street, and it became clear it wasn’t going to get me back to Colony Hall. So I decided to just retrace my steps. But when I turned back the way I came from, I saw this sign that said Private Property and I was like, Uh-oh, am I in someone’s yard?

He wasn’t. He was still on the MacDowell campus, which is studded with Private Property signs. (They’re not too threatening; they just ask MacDowell visitors to please use the High Street entrance.) But one of the visual artists admitted she’d been intimidated by the signs too, as had I.

(It probably doesn’t help that, when I was little, my dad had a habit of parking our motor home on the side of some coastal road and climbing over rocks and fences to gain access to whatever caught his attention, like a cat. I remember reading a sign that said Trespassers will be prosecuted and freaking out, because I mixed up the words “prosecute” and “execute.”)

I decided it’s indicative of the complex everyone here seems to have: Here’s this fantastic thing, but it must be for someone else. We should scurry away before we get caught. This whole week and a half has been a lesson in Artists! They’re just like us!

Today I finally woke up before eight and made it to hot breakfast. You can just place your order for a variety of items on a piece of butcher paper in the kitchen. When a novelist who has a propensity for straight-faced sarcasm told me this, I just laughed. Surely we’d all get matching plates of French toast. No, really, everyone else said. Breakfast is made to order.

Then I spent almost five and a half hours revising the cats-‘n’-Malaysia novel—basically there’s too much Malaysia—which was a slog, but a good and necessary one. I don’t think I’ve mapped out all the changes I need to make, but I made progress, and tomorrow I’m going to reward myself by writing a new chapter, which is much more fun than reworking an outline.

I took a break and ran each side of the V formed by High Street and MacDowell Road. I ran past the MacDowell Country Club, which is open to the public and apparently features strong gin drinks made by a woman named Bev. I ran past a half-dozen Private Property signs.

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