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It’s incredible how long I can stare at a blank page and not write anything and call it “work.” It must look terrible to anyone watching. Just sitting on the couch, staring at the screen, hands listless. Inside my head, there’s a reel of film flying through half-thought-out ideas, recent memories, and some from years ago. It’s a running mix of dreams and reality, what I would and wouldn’t actually put out into the real world. But you only see me sitting, with a blank screen, and how in the world could that be “work.” In my dreaded math classes, they would repeat it like a prayer: “Show your work.” Show my work for writing would be writing itself, but a convoluted, tangled up mess of a story or thoughts that aren’t even formed into a story. Through putting the words down on the page it takes time to untangle it all. Find the best parts, focus on them, bring out the shine in the little words that can mean so much. Even just in writing this, my thoughts have jumped from Danbury to Damascus, from yesterday to thirty years ago. Flashes of memories trying to surface. I’m always fishing for the right one. Sometimes I know it while it’s happening. As I watch the woman in line at the grocery store or while I have the conversation with Rami in the garden. I start to untangle it then, writing paragraphs in my head. Those are the good days. The ones that the words flow and there’s no blank page. Sometimes, I don’t think about it until I have to sit down to write, and the page stares back until I give up and just start stomping words onto it hoping something will emerge. Rami’s asking if I’m done. (My Nana corrects him in my head: ‘Cakes are done, people are finished.’) Luna is numbing out my right wrist – her head bouncing as I try and type. She could be on the entire couch, It’s humid as all hell, but I am draped in fur and wrinkles. I’m not done because I’m not a cake, and I’m not finished because I truly didn’t start anything but an observational sentence which led to another, and then the next. But I’m finished with this thought, and it took about four hundred words, and I only used one paragraph, and so I did show my work, even if I didn’t make it to answering any questions, and I showed what it’s like to stare at a blank page, or at least a little bit of it, before I got to subconsciously untangling it all again.

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