One woman, lots of paint and hundreds of tiles. If you're here because you found a painted tile, it's yours to keep.

Saturday, December 27, 2008

Mysterious Mona

Mona works in a Laundromat. She takes in endless sacks filled with dirty, wrinkled clothing and bedsheets and towels and transforms them into lovely little shrink-wrapped packages of freshly laundered, neatly folded wonders. Her job fits very nicely into her life, since all that repetitive folding and wrapping and hanging allows her time to wander deep into the word factory of her mind where her short stories are produced.

There’s usually a lot to process there, since every place Mona goes, every person she meets, every object she encounters, every thought that lingers, has the potential to make its way onto a page.

Mona loves the process, but sometimes wonders if the words will ever be as uncomplicated as the laundry she sorts, washes, folds, hangs and sends back out into the world. That process is always so incredibly neat and organized whereas words can get really sloppy.

People are always saying that Mona is kinda quiet, and some jokingly call her Mysterious Mona. They like to use all those little worn-out phrases about still water running deep or giving her a penny for her thoughts or that one that goes "Cat got your tongue? which Mona never really did understand. How can a cat have your tongue?

The funny thing is that Mona doesn’t feel like she’s being that quiet, because in her head it’s not quiet at all. It actually gets kinda loud in there and half the time, when people think she’s just being quiet, she just feels busy trying to keep things calm and orderly up there.

She’s got a lot of words inside her head, but sometimes they’re just floating around all willy-nilly in there. She lives for the moments when transitions arrive like tiny saviors to help her tie them all up neatly into a story that makes sense of the world, or at least her tiny place in it, during a particular moment in time.

But no sooner does she get the words all wrapped up and out the door than new thoughts surface and start hanging around the edge of her brain. Like garments waiting to be sorted, washed and folded, they’re waiting to be invited in, analyzed and transformed into something logical, rather than something scary, sad or worrisome. They’re anxious to make their way into a story because they don’t really know where they belong yet and they’re curious about where they’re going to wind up. But they’re not happy about waiting. Mona sometimes envisions all those new pressing thoughts lined up at the Red Velvet Rope, but the beefy little bouncer in her head won’t let them in yet because there are already too many words in there, and Mona is still waiting on transitions … which are apparently on back order. Again.

Sometimes the sheer ongoingness of this process is exhausting. While the word factory typically runs slower at night, it never completely shuts down. It’s pretty much a 24-hour operation, so when transitions don’t arrive, everything gets backed up. The only way to make room for incoming words is to package up all the in-house words in stories, and get them out there into the world. But that’s not possible without transitions, and the beefy little bouncer in Mona's head is getting irritated now. “Mona,” he’s yelling, “Get on the phone and call the parts company and get that transition truck over here, so you can get the damn words out the door! These newbie thoughts have been waiting in line for days and some of them look troublesome. I think they’re about to start rioting? What the hell are you doing in there, Mona? Mona???!!!!!”

Mona knows it’s a mess in there. Piles of words all over the place, and way too many ellipses, which is never a good sign. It’s difficult to even work in these conditions.

Sometimes Mona doesn’t know why there’s never enough transitions to go around, why the factory can’t simply produce more transitions so there will be enough of a supply to meet demand. She realizes, however, that this might detract from the specialness of transitions. As it is, she eagerly anticipates the arrival of those beloved connectors and when she runs out of them, she misses them dearly and excitedly looks forward to the next shipment. If she had a whole stockpile of transitions up there in the word factory, she’s pretty sure they might not feel as special or important. She supposes it is their rareness that makes her want them so much.

So when transitions don't arrive and the factory is too crowded with words, and thuggish thoughts are trying to push past the Red Velvet Rope because Mona’s sleeping and the bouncer has walked off the job, Mona tries to remember that the transitions will eventually be shipped and all will be right with the world again.

Dropped Mona at Mr. Fabulous Coin Laundry and Dry Cleaners, 2200 NE 21st Street, Fort Lauderdale. She's in the rest room hiding out until the transitions truck arrives.


At 10:53 AM, Blogger JoeinVegas said...

Reading all of your stories of people, I realize you are nothing like Mona. You do very well with the words thing.

At 12:06 PM, Blogger Mary Tiler More said...

Thanks Joe in Vegas for your kind words ... but I really do sometimes spend days waiting for that transitions truck to arrive. : )

Thanks for reading!


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