A little more than 10 years ago my then-laptop didn’t like the internet. It would take forever to connect, and sometimes would connect but so poorly that I couldn’t even use it, so what, I ask, was the point?
To stave off frustration I opened a Word document one day and called it “Things I Type when the Internet Doesn’t Work” – forcing myself to do quick bursts of “creativity” instead of getting really, really mad that I couldn’t watch Youtube or go on Facebook or whatever.
One of the things I wrote was a stream of consciousness called “Oh Poor Timothy.” I wrote the title first, thinking it sounded funny, then thought, “OK, who’s Timothy and why is he so poor?” The rest just sort of happened. I read it now and am proud of it. I don’t think it’s genius, or even close. It’s a little too… overstated. Or something. I do recognize it, though, somewhere in the pit of my soul. It says things that are true for me now, and were apparently true for me then.
These days my stream of consciousnesses are deliberately creepy, and, I think, better, but I still love “Oh Poor Timothy.” Check it out – or, better yet, write one yourself. One technique I learned and have used successfully is to stare into the flame of a candle while writing. Failing that, I once stared at a lake. But if you don’t have a candle or a lake handy, you can just stare at a fixed point and write whatever comes into your head. In my opinion, if you make it creepy, it’s more fun. But do you.
Oh Poor Timothy
He told me once that he never really cared much. I tell him often that I do, I have, I always will. These are words like ethical and empathy, they sound soft and malleable and easy to stack in the far corner of the mental attic next to memories from the day the sky was white and time seemed endless. Stacked and gathering dust, they are a part of his vocabulary like any other word, but they come out undercooked, in the centre they are cold, they are watery, a displeasure to chew on. Sometimes I rage against the walls of this container, sometimes I sink to the white plastic floor that smells like artificial lemons, weeping. He sits next to me and reads a magazine. “Call the fire department, the flames are leaping, we can see them in your mouth, in your mind, they’ll extinguish them, you’re making a spectacle of yourself.” He smiles. He is relaxed. He is tranquil. He is a mountain, cool and unmoved. We stare into the face of the beast, and I am in fits of apoplexy, not knowing what it is I feel – it is shame one moment and the next fury, the next sorrow, the next terror, the next helplessness, the next fury again, and impotence, and rage, and impotence, and rage, and shame. He smiles, perplexed and uncurious, opens his bottle doesn’t read what the label says and takes three long hard satisfying gulps and the liquid is downed. “I never really cared much,” and I can only think, can only think oh poor Timothy as he looks at my sad, furious face made foolish by caring, and smiles, perplexed and uncurious, a mountain, cool and unmoved.