Before Steph and Susie left for California, I semi-promised my readership that my contributions to this blog would increase, since I’d have so few distractions. As you can see, that didn’t happen. I am happy to say that Steph and Susie arrived back from Disneyland and Anaheim safely late Friday night. Susie was terrified on the trip out, especially the leg of the trip from Salt Lake City to Long Beach. There was so much turbulence that she said she felt like a yo-yo.
In the meantime, 1-2 days before they got back, I rediscovered an old love. I didn’t finish The Sad Hospital, but several evenings I would sit down with my ballpoint and the appointment book I’ve been using. I found myself working at a snail’s pace, and the ideas weren’t coming any more quickly than that. Acting on a hunch, I went down to the basement and brought up my Smith-Corona Galaxie XII manual typewriter, a portable. (This is not the one I bought at a Salvation Army for $ .80–that is a Royal Royalite which cannot keep up with my Pete Townshend typing technique.) I put the typewriter on the dining room table, put in a piece of paper, and pretty soon I had typed 4.5 pages of the story, and I had a pretty good rhythm going.
Part of what inspired it was that earlier in the evening I had been watching a DVD of Kerouac: King of the Beats, which I highly recommend. It’s narrated by Peter Coyote (who sounds almost identical to Henry Fonda), and the interviews and the readings are excellent, and it is bookended by Kerouac’s appearance on The Steve Allen Show, when he was so smashed he could barely keep his head up.
Anyway, one of the “extras” on the DVD displayed the legendary 40′ Teletype roll on which Kerouac typed On the Road for days on end, living on coffee and speed, and getting up only to go to the bathroom. A person is gently unrolling it, and the camera pans over all the words and the typeovers and the handwritten notes, etc. The person unrolls this the same way I have seen people handle the Torah at synagogue. Kerouac’s voice reads the San Francisco jazz chapter of On the Road, and this cuts back and forth with a picture of someone at an Underwood Standard No. 5 typing away at the roll.
I remembered that the typewriter had always been my best writing instrument, so that was when I brought my Galaxie XII out of retirement. In high school, my dad did not allow me to stay up late watching TV, and he would be in my bedroom in a flash if I had the radio too loud, but he and my stepmother–very rare for them–said nothing negative if I was up typing half the night.
To make it official, I need to transfer Leo’s picture from the Royalite. This is a picture of Leo Tolstoy that I copied from online a long time ago–a good role model for writing, conduct of life, and spiritual thought. The picture is kind of like the little Beethoven statue that Schroeder in Peanuts always kept on his piano. Tolstoy is still revered for his writing, of course–the fiction, at least. I think the religious writing shows him at his best, but his brand of Christianity never caught on once he died. It reeked too much of effort for most Christians to try.