That’s the last word I’m going to write this year.
When I was younger, marveling at the hippies, there was a popular commercial on all the FM stations for a shampoo called Head.
Head shampoo is squeezy, so clean and easy the natural thing to do. I know my hairs would rather have organic lather so I wash them off in Head shampoo!
Sold in head shops, a.k.a. stores that sold marijuana paraphernalia. I’m pretty sure they even used the illustration from Job rolling papers for their logo until they probably got sued.
A few years earlier the Monkees, a.k.a. The Prefab Four, made a movie designed to totally put the final nail in their coffin as a bubblegum act. With a screenplay written in part by Jack Nicholson, the movie Head was a psychedelic dadaist meditation on the disintegration of pop music. It’s not for everyone, but I dig it.
Speaking of films, the word HEAD appears at the beginning of film reels (just before the “countdown” on what’s known as Academy leader) to let projectionists know which way to thread the film. You would think this is obvious that the fist part unspooling from a reel of film is the head, but when it has been taken up on the other side of the projector gate (on a take-up reel, natch) what looks like a head is a tail and vice versa. Consequently the end of a reel of film is also marked TAIL so that projectionists know which reels need to be rewound in their dark little worlds.
None of these are what I have in mind. And to “have in mind” is to imply that there is something captured or trapped within my brain, that there is something I am pondering, thinking about, considering. On this, the last day of 2008, what is foremost in my mind — when I’m not playing games with the family while the snow piles up outside, or making a tomatillo salsa for some tilapia, or dozing on the couch — is that I can’t figure out how to start this middle grade novel that has been dogging me since January. From that moment in Vermont when I decided this was the story I wanted to pursue, through two advisors and countless beginnings, through exercise and revision, around essays and beneath the valley of contempt, this story has been rattling around inside my head. Taunting me, hiding, yelling at me like some insolent child demanding attention and favor, this damn story just doesn’t seem to want to let go of the far corners of my gray matter.
In a few moments I need to get ready to trudge down the street to a party to celebrate the new year. And among all the drinking and sugary treats and conversation, in the back of my mind will be the one thought I can’t shake, the one that defines the year 2008 in a sense, the one that causes me to write the last word I’ll write this year:
How do I get this damn middle grade novel out of my…