Mark and I had encountered Steve at the park.
“I hang out at the north end. Mostly in the afternoons. It’s a little quieter here. More pleasant views,” he said, as he swept his arms up towards Music Hall.
Mark said, “Yeah I see you a lot,” and he replied, “I see you too,” making note of Mark’s dayglo orange shirt.
“I guess I don’t cuz I have the early shift, walking the dog.” We all laughed.
Steve was one of the many whose daily path also included spending the night at the City Gospel Mission.
He had no complaints for the life he was leading. And called himself, “one of them” who used to go around and cause trouble.
Daily, I watched as men, some younger, some older, pull their roll away suitcases down the street, or heave a few gym bags over their shoulder. They stake out their park bench. Pull out a Bible. Sit and watch the sun come up.
Each day. Every. Day.
That is their work.
In the same way, an associate of ours who works for 3CDC encounters his work to shore up old buildings. To recreate something from a structure someone built hundreds of years ago. To find money to do the same. To listen to my complaints about the delivery trucks which block the alley.
Daily, he must walk past, as I do, dozens of buildings in need of a purpose. We all see buildings in need of a home.
But I often wondered how he does not get discouraged from his work.
So work is on my mind. On my walks with Enzo, I am accompanied by the employees moving towards Kroger’s headquarters. Or, way over on Eighth Street, I stride past an employee of the Westin (nametag) with her uniform on who comments on my bright shoes.
Then, I go home to work.
But lately, it hasn’t felt like work. It hasn’t felt like much of anything at all. When my previous years were spent teaching / facilitating writing classes across the city, the most recent months were lost in the landslide of graduations, moves and adjustments.
And in the midst of that, a brave friend offered to read and critique my manuscript. One I have been at, for 18 months. One on its third draft.
As I delve further into my revisions, I am awed by her work. Not just her editor’s eye and mind, but that she took a number two pencil to jot down ideas in margins. That she saw more in me than I can see now, that I am cringing at some of my grave plot and grammatical errors.
And I get frustrated when I read too far ahead in the suggested revision, knowing there is so much more ahead of me.
And what work that is.
Kroger employees might envy me, if they knew I could work in my pj’s, but the fact is, I don’t. I take this seriously. I spend two to three hours a day at it. While also writing these posts, and a myriad of other writing themes that come to mind, and cloud my life. I am motivated to work by those around me.
Streetcar contractors are at work before 7 a.m. I hear the beeps of their backhoes. The park employees trim bushes before the sun comes up. A myriad of neighbors walk their dog, before heading to work. H., who holds court on the corner, shows up every morning, sometimes in the afternoon, and on a clear night, he sits and has a view of Music Hall to send him off to a night delighted. And D. on the other corner, well, he and I are working on our Bengals-Browns relationship. I am losing after Week One.
Moving around words on a page is also work. Thinking about how I want a character to speak, dress, act. What are their motivations. That is work. Creating one’s own schedule, and having the discipline to stick with it? Work.
So I go back to Steve’s words. “You gotta walk it out.” That is his work. Some have to dig it out, hammer it out. Our contacts at 3CDC have to do plenty more than that.
So, I’m gonna “walk it out.” That is the work. Taking that step. Then the next. One chapter, half a chapter, one paragraph, a single word.
* Pictured above: The old State Theatre.
A Beaux Arts style structure which was given an Art Moderne remodel in the 1940’s stood about two blocks from the earlier Casino Theater (1913) by the same architects, Rapp, Zettle and Rapp of Cincinnati and financed by the Provident Bank. It was an early venue of I. Frankel of Cleveland who had a small string of theatres in the Cincinnati area.
It opened as the Metropolitan Theater in 1915 and became the property of the Goldman family in 1944 when the name was change to the State Theater. In 1984 it was renamed Allison’s West End Cinema. The theater had no balcony, but did present vaudeville on its 20 foot deep stage in addition to silent and later sound flicks. The theater was also second-run. Allison’s West End Cinema closed in 1989. It is the home of the Lighthouse Ministries church today.
8/21/14 1:19 PM