Monday, January 18, 2010

Residency-a-logue: Jentel, Day 4

I know, I know, I'm already three days behind in talking about my residency experience. But, as a wise old friend (Cruce Stark) told me, it usually takes about a week to adjust to your new settings and to get the creative juices flowing. But, with January in full effect on the cold Wyoming plains, those juices have become viscous and are in danger of freezing.

I suppose the desolation is good for the concentration. Even better: spotty satellite Internet, which means no streaming movies, no YouTube, and no World of Warcraft. There aren't any nearby coffee shops into which I can just pop. No cell phone reception. There is, however, satellite television, but I've limited my media consumption to CNN coverage of the Haitian earthquake, the occasional horror movie, and episodes of Robot Chicken and the Venture Brothers.

But desolation does have a certain beauty. Jentel, nestled as it in near the Big Horn mountains, is located down a dirt road, past cattle and horses and wild turkeys. The mountain range stretches in the distance, in defiance of the brown, flat land all around it. If I really wanted, I could hike up the large hills that are part of the 1000 acres attached to Jentel, but I'm not sure my boots could handle it. The snow pack stands at maybe only 4 inches, and it's mostly frozen solid, crunching underfoot.

So far, I'm getting along swimmingly with the other five residents (four visual arts & one writer; or, four women & one man). We're taking turns cooking -- this isn't your mother's cushy, hand-delivered meal residency. We've leaned more towards the vegetarian fare lately, but tonight black bean and chorizo soup is on the menu. My turn to cook comes in 2 days.

As for productivity, it hasn't quite hit me yet. I've been dithering, rearranging the papers on my desk or editing previously written sections of my novel or engaging in research, all while listening to the entire output of Saint Etienne. But I'm ready to push past it the procrastination, I think.

Late at night (or early in the morning, depending on your point-of-view), when I'm returning to the house from my studio, the stars hang large in the sky, and I hear coyotes far in the distance. I use a flashlight to guide my way, trying to find the non-snow path for my delicate, fuzzy slippers. The darkness seems entirely complete.

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