Beat Time 

Dialogue exists out in the ether. I take a pen. I index my consciousness. I’m making a mark; I’m signing my name. I’m committing an idea to my studio wall. I am scrawling my name to a petition on the street. I am signing my name in a visitor book—I WAS HERE. I pitter patter my fingers along the silent screen of my phone; I am whispering secrets. Here I say all sorts of embarrassing things I dare not say aloud. I would be mortified; I would die and then who would own my story? Can I not take it with me to my grave? Can I please let it die with me? I have the right not to tell my story. She will not be published. Perhaps she deserves to die? On my laptop now and typing furiously, it still retains some of the clickety-clatter of the typewriter—and now I am clever, now I have something to say, now I am a conductor—here is the score, here I am setting things to rights. Now I’m sending a voice note and here is where I ‘um’ and ‘ah’ and leave room for thought. Here is where you feel the presence of reflection, the doubt—the doubt! the deep, deep doubts—the trailing, the teetering off, the helplessness of handling language in my mouth. The words are too small; my mouth is too big—a lot of hot air and empty space surrounds them. Now I’m texting someone, I’m sending a sunny emoji so I don’t seem passive-aggressive, now I’m texting someone who lives in my echo chamber and I respond with ‘class’ and it contains multitudes of hilarious meanings and meaningful memories. Here I am, now, sending an email and I wonder how many exclamations points knock the balance over from peppy and easy-to-deal-with to manic, overly excitable puppy. Now I’m writing something I know I will read aloud and suddenly there is rhythm—there is form, there are words to perform!—and I wonder, have these dead poets and their lyricism been there waiting in the wings to well up once given the right dress? Ring, ring! It’s the telephone and now I’m again relying on my voice alone to communicate—but I don’t have time for reflection. I must be quick, sharp, snappy with my answers or the listener—read reader—will think the lines gone dead. Here we all are on Zoom, exhausted but gazing intently at our own images; smiling, smiling, smiling—never quite succeeding at balancing the long, awkward silences, when the discussion opens up, with the chaos of everyone unmuting their mics and accidentally talking over each other at the same time—all scrambling, scrambling to read social cues. I shrink, I expand, I exist in many, many forms. Here comes the drop-down menu on a dating app: I am male/female, I am looking for male/female, I am a smoker/non-smoker, I am liberal/conservative, I like dogs/I am a normal human being who doesn’t rely on a pet as a personality. That was mean, I’m sorry—but now I am in essay form and sometimes she is sassy. I can’t control it; she just writes and writes in this space, hitting up against whatever limits, whatever confines the square keys of her keypad control. The QWERTY keyboard was designed to keep all the letters you would use most frequently far apart to slow the typist down so that the typewriter machine didn’t snag. Now QWERTY is printed in my brain as a thought process—but there is still an act, a gesture in pressing these keys and there is still a moment, now—even with me lashing the keys as hard as I can, knowing I can go back later with autocorrect and tidy  these thoughts up a bit, even now, amidst this frantic typing, there is a pause, there is a  moment when I think the thought, put the thought into the words that I have to think of it, phrase these together, string myself a sentence and then break this back down into the letters that make up this sentence and then tell my fingers get cracking this could be a good thought, let’s capture this one, let’s hold on to this boyo, let’s use up every clichéd, weird phrase we have in our repertoire to examine this experience—but there is still time that exists in between all this… Time—I cannot beat time—I cannot beat time—beat time, beat time, beat time. No, I cannot beat time; I must try and write. I must be content with the fact that my existence is controlled by language and forms and that is all.