Remember the writing prompt from last week? It’s a cold, wet day and you’re in a hurry to get somewhere. You can’t find your coat, but you’re late so you leave anyway. When you get to where you’re going, you’re relieved to see one of your old coats draped over a chair in the corner. You put on the coat, zip it up, stick your hand in the pockets – and discover something that you’ve been looking for, something that you’ve been missing for a while, in the left-hand pocket. You turn to the nearest person, show them what you’ve found, and begin to tell them the story, starting with the words “This is my…“
The first Pocket Monologue comes from Austin playwright, novelist and actor Katherine Catmull:
This is my yellow chalk. Shoot, I’m so glad to have this back. It’s really hard to find this rich yellow, I mean this specific, yolk-from-the-egg-of-a-backyard-chicken color. Your typical chalk only comes in the butter to sunflower range.
I’m a tagger, I guess, basically. A gentle tagger. A Buddhist tagger, because when you tag in chalk, you need to be friendly with impermanence.
But I prefer to think of myself as an illuminator. You know, like monks used to do, in books? Drawing curlicues in rust and gold and indigo around capital letters? And crazy little doodles in the margins – wolves giving you the eyeball; calm dudes tying themselves into actual knots; angels in weird hats?
I’m not illuminating books, though. I’m illuminating the city. You might have seen my work…? Well, or not, it’s been rainy. Anyway, I illuminate signs. Billboards, stop signs, street signs. “No Parking Tow Away” signs. SALE TODAY ONLY signs. “All welcome to worship Sunday 10am” signs.
Last week, I did a fantastic one on the downtown WHOLE FOODS sign – gardens and pinwheel-eyed hunters and fish caught by their silver tails. I worked all night.
I think the open-up staff hosed it off.
One day I will have finished the whole city. The Book of Austin. The Très Riches Heures du Austin, Texas. The whole city, every word of it, cuddled around with verdigris vines, and oddball birds in profile, and skinny carmine cats hanging upside down from the crossbar of capital T’s.
That day, though, I’ll have to start again. Because, you know: rain, hoses. I’ll have to start again.
And then I’ll have to start again, and then again, and again, and again.
So it’s a pretty good life!
Especially now I found this yellow chalk. Boom, take that, impermanence.
This work is the property of Katherine Catmull, published here with permission.