I set a timer on my iPhone and in my notebook I wrote:
The struggle of working on this story becomes all-consuming, an obsession, taking on a life of its own, taking over my life, to the point where all I’m thinking about is this story, even when I’m not thinking about it, even when I’m thinking and talking about other things…Going head-on into my past, a time that haunts me, unrelenting, the thoughts of this time cause me to clench up, tense up, I’m on edge, even looking out the window at a deserted street in Queens the reflection of a green street light, sudden, bright, on the dark windshield of a parked red pickup truck, in the periphery of my vision it’s just a sudden brightness, and it makes me jump, or a yellow cab coming into view, but when I see it in the corner of my eye, it startles me and I let out a low, involuntary sound, “Oh!” And the reflection of the bathroom light, sharp, raw, in the water in the toilet bowl, like raw nerves, buzzing. I can’t stop moving or take this maddening uncertainty off my mind so I compulsively write in my notebook or on my phone, every thought triggered by every sound and movement I detect, at this late hour they all seem eerie, as though some impending doom looms on the horizon, as the Citigroup building always looming in the sky…This street, viewed from this second story apartment above a shut-down pizza joint, could be anywhere in the USA, as the lyrics of the Red Hot Chili Peppers song go, the one I must’ve played hundreds of times in my car as I drove through LA…At once thrilled, embracing the freedom and uncertainty as I vowed I would, and at the same time deeply anxious, more and more, it seems to get more intense, and I accept this exploration, searching, as part of the process, intermittent with the rush of freedom, writing thoughts coming faster than I can write them down, deep anxiety, I’m on edge, like raw nerves, ready to snap at any moment…Every time I lay down and close my eyes and start drifting off I suddenly become conscious I’m slipping into unconsciousness and I see an image of two young men gagged and bound, one with slightly longer hair than the other, who’s tall and thin, and other images, words, repeating, insistent, unrelenting, like a chant: In the willow, in the way. In the willow, in the way. In the willow, in the way. And on it goes until I jolt awake, again, open my notebook, write down these thoughts, trying to write out this anxiety, night panic, knowing it may not let me go but numbed and calmed nonetheless by Advil, for a headache, and exhaustion. Again, I law down, waiting for the next thought but trying as best I can not to push them, direct them, shape them, just let them be, and needing rest.