Commute Writing: A Morning Headache that Has its Merits

It's raining like this today. West Oakland, another day photographed from BART. As I've grown used to my commute, this is one of my favorite views to see out the window.
It’s raining like this today. West Oakland, another day photographed from BART. As I’ve grown used to my commute, this is one of my favorite views to see out the window.

Factor in getting up at 5 in the morning for about 4 days a week, today was no exception to the fatigue and occasional headache I get from the crowds and smells of the early morning BART train. But now, it’s nothing that some writing, a cup of coffee and a good raincoat can’t fix!

Because I ride BART three days a week, give or take one day for a workshop to teach late at night, it’s a lot of idle time spent, eighty minutes a day of just emptiness. And admittedly, none of it is really used for effective writing. I guess I don’t bother because 1) the train’s too crowded to move around especially if standing, to get out a paper and pen, and 2) I feel like I have to write something epic and significant (and lengthy) for such a long time.

But I want to get over that complex. And I want to be rid of boredom. Boredom can kill! And as a result, I vow I’ll make more an effort to write on the trains. Not just anything too, but everything. Free write. It really is, as I’m rediscovering from my work as a freelancer, effective for stimulating the imagination, keeping my thoughts on the go, every second. And today’s, Day 1, started as such:

no capital letters. that is the ultimate rule. just complicates things. this is not a diary log. nor does it bother me that this is my (one of my) favorite pens. people stare, people stand, and this pen is fading off. i have to make this pen last. then i will be bored– and maybe i’ll die. well, probably not. this keeps me occupied. because i am primarily a writer. maybe i’ll bring my diary on BART. good idea! but i guess i’m not so smart. running thoughts, i’m not crazy, i’m not.

Just letting those thoughts flow out and randomly settles my nerves. I’m not jittery or feel like I have things bottled up. It’s out there, and if it makes no sense, at least I did write.

I also wrote something random at work on paper which I wove into a workshop sample. It went something like:

It is going to be a beautiful day in the neighborhood as my neighbor Mr. Rogers would like it. I live next door in the small house, a one story where the cotton blossoms grow and blow in the wind.Wouldn’t it be nice if every day were gorgeous as this? It wouldn’t be as lovely as when I am with you.

Was this poetry? It could have been? It was more so gibberish I had to spit out on a piece of mint-colored paper in my shitty cursive handwriting using a white Uniball pen, just so the cursive showed in contrast to the gold paper I would weave through it. But now that I come back to that random block of words, it’s not bad.
Other side notes:

Shamelessly addicted to Girls and will buy the DVD this Friday because it’s sad to just watch clips of the show on Youtube.


This new Amtrak plan for Writers Residency is TOTALLY WHAT I WILL NEED THIS SUMMER. The last time I rode on Amtrak was up to Davis for a friend’s birthday weekend say, three years ago? It smelled pleasant, like it’s cleaned every hour and I had a great window seat of the rolling pastures of dry grass and shaggy cows and the Carquinez Straight. For a forty-five minute train ride, it was what I needed to yet another kick-start into some sort of writing– the best way to have started one of my most memorable weekend getaways in college. Also? I saw the American Sean Connery on the train back. It was surreal– it was epic. I’ll never get as lucky again. Lately I’ll take the occasional CalTrain down from San Francisco to San Jose to visit my boyfriend or college buddies. It definitely beats BART by a long shot. I very much enjoy this hour-long ride; imagine traveling then on Amtrak from the Bay Area to say, Oregon or Montana (yes, Grace!). And at no charge.


And I truly want to see this film again:

image via Google

See the beauty in storytelling? Big Fish (2003)


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