So, yeah, I’ve just been paging through Journal 168 from last December

So, yeah, I’ve just been paging through Journal 168 from last December  — funny stuff, entertaining.

OK, I just paused there a minute to look for the place in recent pocket pages (“thought refrigerators”) where I said that our conscious minds can’t be trusted to do the important work of keeping our bodies going. I said a related thing in J168 about how our bodies handle reproduction automatically. I don’t do much indexing of my ideas, and sh!t, that’s probably not gonna happen. I’d rather be creating new stuff than merely indexing the old. I mean, I’m not right now interested in any kind of thorough index. I’ll do a haphazard one if I do one soon, I mean, an incidental sort of index — not really an index at all. M does get some great quotes. I love finding places where I’ve quoted her.

B___’s dad gives each girl $15K or so, she wrote, to get their own car — who has money like that lying around? Or does he save up for that, and if so, why? Anyway, yes, Dog barked at a dog (looked like border collie) and a person — dude in yellow coat? —who were walking westward along the dirt road. They’d come from east, over the wheat fields? And I don’t know of any border collies in this ‘hood. We saw them walk north of B___’s and then we didn’t see them cross west. Dog didn’t bark again.

[From journal of Mon., 25 March 2013, Journal 173, page 130-1]

There’s a bench nearby but it’s still in the sun

1:30 p.m.-ish. Parked on Church Street, across Church Street from the new federales courthouse. M’s there on L___ case. I keep hearing a thunking, like a pile driver — really, in this day and age? Well, I guess they do still need to drive piles. There’s a nice big greenspace lawn here outside courthouse — makes Rockford look nicer than it normally looks downtown. Jim Morrison passed through my thoughts now, not sure why. It’s about 90° but with low humidity, doesn’t seem so bad. Morrison — the idea of Morrison — somehow connected in my mind to the Hawk’s Nest restaurant here to my left. Sitting here outside courthouse now — on the ground — there’s a bench nearby but it’s still in the sun. I had that sense of my butt getting warmed — that feeling that prompted the thought, “I didn’t know I had been cold.”

The pile-driving sound — a dull metallic banging — sounds like it’s southeast of here, maybe at the Amerock building they’re gonna take down — so I thought I had read in Rockford Register-Star. There’s a shallow — not even 6-inch deep — pool of water out from here, and a concrete quasi-structure out from here — like buttresses, but not flying ones, maybe. I’m having these thoughts — maybe this is where the Morrison thought comes in — the sunny, happy, day — like I’d like to have that joyful-sunny-day kid feeling. Ah, but you can’t force that, of course. No reason I can’t be happy now, anyway, you know? I’m just sitting here, with no place to go. It’s warm out but not bad in the shade. The bench is now shaded — benches have labels : “” and “2010” and a W & T logo … — I could go inside but there’s no place to sit inside without going through security (probably on purpose, that). We went to old federal courthouse — I didn’t know where it was. It’s just a block south of county courthouse. M went there first because she wasn’t sure if they’d moved yet [sun’s midway or 3/4 through a 12″ block tile at 1:54. It seemed to go through the previous foot very quickly]. Cute young woman in jeans & yellow blouse just came out of courthouse — she went in soon after I had gotten here. 1:56 — it’s almost a quarter of the way into next block, from 3/4 to 1/4 = 1/2 block (6″ in 2 minutes?), —  woof, sun be movin’ today.

Still the bench seat is warm — and I’ve got a back rest up here against the building. Well, I played a bit of frisbee with dog this morn, then started watering before 10:30, finished about noon. Watered all the plants around the house, including bushes I hadn’t watered before. [(1:58) Shadow edge is up to the next full brick — so 12″ in less than 4 minutes!]

[From journal of Weds., 27 June 2012, Journal 162, pages 26-7]

It was still raining when I walked Sam at 6

It was still raining when I walked Sam at 6 — no so much later. We walked this morning through B___ H___. There’s utility work — diggings near boxes — electrical? — and two newly blacktopped driveways.

And yeah — that seems dull to write about. Damn, I was up about 5:45 this morning and am starting to get sleepy. I’ve blogged only two things since Feb. — I had a thought this morning that I hadn’t had many good journal thoughts lately. But no, I have had some good (interesting) thoughts lately — about how constructivism isn’t about problem-solving but gaining knowledge — unlike how constructivism works in real life.

I’m done, nearly done, with 15 years of teaching. It seems like 5 more years (’til pension [is earned]) is still far off. I recall hearing ___ say, before she retired, that she wasn’t going to work for only a quarter of her salary (since pension would pay her 3/4) — but she’s dead now anyway. That’s rude, I don’t mean her death refutes her point — just that, well, I may want to keep working past my first year of retirement eligibility. Who knows how I’ll feel then? Maybe we’ll have a poorly managed school and I’ll want out. Or maybe I’ll die before retirement.

I’d thought this notebook could look classy (ick, that term), but here’s the high-viz pink [ink] — well, it is hard to write in here, ya know.

[From journal of Sunday, 1 May 2016, Journal 226, page 44-5]

The realness of walking a seal-coated road past oaks and boats

I was thinking while walking … and dog has seemed pretty tired since — but then he was up shivering part of the night. M said when she came to bed (after my 11:40 p.m. (approx.) bedtime) that he was shaking so much — just from rainfall, not even lightning (I don’t think), that his teeth chattered. And M said she wants to take him to vet or somebody to calm him during storms. We could try another Thundershirt, but the last didn’t seem to do much for him. So, I’m walking and the world seems sweet, good — not exactly — it’s more like the world felt real this morning — which of course is bullsh!t — the world’s not feeling anything, it’s not projecting any mood. Only a person — in this case, me — a mind (dogs, too) — can sense a mood, which is to say, I also more-or-less author my moods — not exactly. I’m not saying I consciously choose a mood. I often feel I’m not choosing — my moods just exist almost as much as a tree that I might see and touch just exists. But, maybe moods and feelings seem real because they arise from parts of my mind I’m not aware of. If I’m tired or sick or whatever, certain moods arise to consciousness. My point is, it feels like my moods are a result of external factors — that when the day is gray, I feel calm (though I might also feel depressed after too many days of gray) — and these moods might arise from my body or brain — so, external to my mind’s scope — but not from weather or the relative niceness and tidiness of the houses and yards I walk past (though I very often judge those and have feelings of jealously or superiority). 

And so how can I convey that sense of being alive in a real place? I can’t. Even now, I’m sitting here in a house (where it’s dry) writing about damp walk of an hour or so ago. Funny thing is that I keep trying to convey through words the realness of walking a seal-coated road past oaks and boats (not sure if I saw a boat today — perhaps — but I did keep the O-rhymes going). 

So, yeah, yeah — and I think the realness I felt also was just my bemusement, almost, at being outside, and realizing that it wasn’t so bad, even in the mist, and also, how here I was (am) — “here I am, outside” — when I spend lotsa time indoors thinking abstractions.


[From journal of Sun., 29 Sept. 2019, Journal 309, page 77-8]

We were supposed to get 5–10 inches of snow overnight.

We were supposed to get 5–10 inches of snow overnight. Maybe Rochelle got more than we did — it’s 9″ deep in drifts, like on our sidewalk when dog and I went out there this morn — but in the road — dog and I walked past Randy shoveling and Ryan K. — I think — in his truck with window open, talking to Randy? I’m not sure — and we walked E___ to L___, up to W____, but wind was from north (and 18° F., A.M. TV said) and we came south on L___ and back east on E___. Dog’s gone out once on deck but I see no tracks further than 4 feet from the door. There was an alert on my phone — it’s charging. I can check it later. I don’t feel  like moving just now. … Made buttered noodle’s for dinner. Snow was up to dog’s chest in spots. He didn’t roll in any of it, though. I wonder way. Ryan K. truck stayed in the E___ area near Randy for a while — minutes — after we’d passed by and eventually that black truck turned north on T__. And let the words pour —  not that I’m usually organized but I’m feeling it even less so today. 

[From journal of Fri., 9 Feb. 2018, Journal 268, pg. 216-7]

There’s no need to fear, well, anything!

Maybe the wise answer, the Answer of Wisdom, or Answer of the Voice of Wisdom, is to not seek purpose so hard — to just appreciate the present moment and to not be obsessed with these abstractions of Purpose, all that — and yet, I wonder why this felt-need for Purpose comes to me now and then. Why do I keep returning to it? Perhaps that’s just an obsessive habit, perhaps I’ve been writing too much today and so I return to the Existential Void, yet again. And it is pretty pleasant just to sit here and write, you know? I could go read some old journals but that seems like a shift into work, a bit.

(Something that I’ve noticed lately: I’ve noticed a couple people say in the media, Carlin was one, or maybe it was him twice, who said he’s not into dirty words just to throw them out there unintentionally — he called that ignorant, I think — that he used dirty words to make a point, or in service of the rhythm, the auditory punch of a swear.)

Maybe what I’m talking about, with this lack-of-purpose talk, is just that if I did have a task before me, I’d be doing that, my attention would be on that — and that without a task, this is how you think. I mean, you could be meditating, in which case all thoughts could be abandoned, let go, and you really could be part of this moment, absorbed in it — though you haven’t done a lot of meditating since last summer, with your anxiety. You have found it easy, preferable, to stay occupied — and maybe you need to face that void of meditation more often? Maybe not facing it, not meditating, is making you feel more of a lack of purpose — or a lack of comfort and calm that you feel as a lack of purpose. Maybe this comes back to just that: being more accepting of life itself — doing more meditating, having less fear of my thoughts, any thoughts (and so many fearful thoughts come from the media, anyway — if I lived without media, I’d have fewer thoughts to fear?). And since last summer, I haven’t been as interested in trying to control my thoughts. I think I tried to do that last summer, to frustrating result (especially when trying to sleep).

But there’s no need to fear, well, anything! Accept, let it all go. Whatever it feels to be alive. Maybe (sh!t — I thought I may have had some brilliant way to end that sentence by the time I’d get halfway through it — some way to relate my ennui this morning to … relating my sense of, relating my feelings today and my attempt from a few days ago to describe what it’s like to be alive.

[From journal of Fri. 27 June 2008, Journal 102, page 122-4]

Write what you’re passionate about writing!

For so long I’ve been writing stuff I didn’t think anyone would care about. I cared about my memories and family stories, but I didn’t think anyone else would. And so, no wonder I wrote only first drafts and didn’t come back to them! When M told me my idea about prose vs. poetry could be an essay, my very next thought was: but where would I publish it? I didn’t see the point if I couldn’t publish, and I didn’t have the drive or sheer will to write it and find a place for it. And so now, though, I can see that that’s a prime example of how I’ve been short-circuiting myself for years! Feeling that I had to keep one eye on market at all times — but that wasn’t the passion for me, you know! Now I’m thinking passion: write what you’re passionate about writing! Write what you’re burning to write! Write the book you hope you can finish before you die — your life becomes precious to you rather than endless and empty. M said I’m so attractive when I’m feeling positive, when I’m excited about stuff.

I am passionate about journals! Passion doesn’t always have to be — is better if it’s not — manic, but a felt-need — my need to do morning pages.

[From journal of Tues., 18 Sept. 2007, Journal 90, page 93-5]

Those areas just around a corner

So Shadowlands — great movie. Best I’ve seen since The Crying Game, but I love England, and this had much great footage. Great writing and acting — sad but not sappy like My Life. The Daily Illini said it was “romance for the literate.” Not of lot of deep philosophy but some — the whole pain thing. “The pain is part of the happiness” — it heightens the good experiences, because you know how bad it can get. The “Shadowlands” is a neat term itself. It refers to those areas just around a corner, or above the next hill, where you suppose you will find happiness — always chasing it but never here. But later Anthony Hopkins realizes that he is happy now

I love England — the architecture and countryside are beautiful — so green, like Illinois. The film also had a great, realistic kiss scene between Jack and Joy, which reminded me of me &  ___ , a caressing, passionate kiss. 

Why did Debra Winger have a Brooklyn accent? Sounded more Italian than Jewish. 

[From journal of Sat., 29 Jan. 1994 (written 30 Jan.), Journal 5, page 390]

This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever: Nov. and Dec. notes

My view from beneath the shrubs at school where I eat outside so as to not be maskless in my classroom during pandemic school. 4 Nov. 2020.

§ My daily-living journals are a detective story — a story of me trying to figure out what’s going on around me.  I’m taking stock every day: “Here’s what I know, here’s what I wonder.” [4 Nov. 2020]

§ Once I’m dead, I’ll probably care about as much about writing and my writings as I do when I’m asleep now, which isn’t much. [5 Nov. 2020]

§ “I got couscous so you can stay alive,” said a mom to three kids elementary-school age, two girls and a boy, at a Woodman’s grocery store. One of the girls had made a comment how they each were carrying two things — I saw no cart or basket with them. [7 Nov.]

§ My job helps me get food. There’s no food in a bare field. I thought this while eating my store-bought food outside school yesterday and imagining I was out walking in a harvested field at north horizon. But there’s no food there. What saves me from hunger is my ability to partake in the system: I have credentials, job, money to shop for food others made. [9 Nov.]

§ Politics flattens people into partisans. There’s power in groups, and yet, I don’t want to think partisan. I don’t want to be limited. I don’t want to have to think about politics at all — let leaders make decisions. [19, 23 Nov.]

Gasoline refueling. 7 Dec. 2020

§ Even if you’re critical or cynical, your body exists. Being critical or cynical, those are just ideas. It can be unpleasant to be around (in the company of ) someone whose ideas I don’t like. There’s a sense in which people embody their ideas (values, attitudes, etc.). People will act out their values and will defend their ideas, with force sometimes. But, once you’ve died, your ideas are no longer part of your body; one’s death draws attention (mine at least today) to the body. The ideas seem to fall away, become these things unrelated to one’s existence — my point being that my attitudes and ideas (especially those that are general criticisms) aren’t all that important to me while I live, either. [30 Nov.]

Sunrise, Ogle County, Illinois. 15 Dec. 2020.

§ As I waited and looked at passing train cars (containers) at Flagg Center last night, I thought how I was merely looking. I wasn’t doing anything else more significant than that. As I looked at train, I thought, one day, if I go senile, I won’t appreciate sitting and watching a train pass. But now, at age 46, I can choose to do that. I’m not senile — I’m young enough to choose to look at a passing train. And I thought, somehow, that Kerouac died at about the age I am now, but he wrote his novels about times he had, things he did, when younger. And if I write now about my ideas and experiences now, my peers won’t care — but following generations might once they get to be my age. Kerouac wrote of his youthful exploits to show other young people things they could do — I do the same (not intentionally, but de facto) for older people? [30 Nov., 1 Dec.]

§ I don’t think of today as “1 December.” It’s just morning of a fall/winter day. [1 Dec.]

§ I’ve had dreams like this — I’m at school, working, but nobody’s here. I’m doing well for sitting in my room by myself for 8 hours a day, I said when asked by a passing human in the hallway how I was doing. Of course I’m thinking existential thoughts in this teaching-remotely era. My job is to do work for people and with people but the people are no longer here. There are Reals behind the screen, who do the assignments, yes, but I end up spending hours by myself.  [1 Dec. 2020, second day of fully remote/online teaching, 2 p.m.] 

§ I misspelled “example” as “exmaple” — a former maple? [3 Dec.] 

§ While walking dog this morning, I thought that this will be a typical day. Then I thought, no, it’s a particular day — today — and the day is open. And my mind can be open to it. (The danger of being older is feeling you know enough.) [7 Dec.]

§ Most literary texts intend [are intended by their creators] to engage readers as texts — I’m not as interested in doing that in my texts. Rather than presenting a whole, alternative world or worldview through my texts, I’d prefer to point out (I think) the limits of words and of abstraction, too. My texts will point away from themselves or their adequacy as texts. The texts I write, the ideas I have, seem less about conveying a wholeness and more about pointing away from language and abstraction and pointing toward the physical world of raw experience (or experience of consciousness in the physical world). I can’t say that every one of my texts in fact does this point way — but this is my general perception of my work and my inclination. I’m not interested in polishing my texts. I don’t need to create a complete theory or self-contained abstract world. I prefer to write spontaneously from within (or “out of”) my life. I don’t want to write from a pose of years later. And I am not interested in crafting and polishing my prose for a performance to readers . This is where I seem to be — these seem to be my (to this point) truest, profoundest wishes. [7 Dec.]

§ Political scientists and journalists who look to explain societal and voters’ tendencies — I’m not that interested in that level of and focus of rhetoric. NPR and other national news organizations’ stories are so often at the policy level, talking about wide-spread problems. Individual problems seldom matter. [9, 14,15 Dec.]

§ Advice to myself: Practice not criticizing others publicly, but doing it privately, and only to learn from criticisms. Ignore, don’t make fun of, even, others. I’m seeing lately that I’d rather ignore foolishness than oppose it and suggest my own approaches. [10 Dec.]

§ How you react in a given moment on your own — an obvious point, yet worth saying: For all the formal learning we do, a person is acting as seems best in each moment in each present. [10 Dec.]

§ The hawk taking off from power pole and flying above my car, while I also saw cows in pasture to my left an abundance of a world for me to see on this sunny, frosty morning commute. [10 Dec.]

§ Longer texts pull us in. Shorter texts push us to do our own thinking. They more like prompts than stories — and they’re cool for that reason. They’re like koans for meditating on. And there’s no reason to read many at once — don’t keep reading — go off and think! [10 Dec.]

§ Short texts can be part of the physical world (and of my experience of physical world) more than long texts can be. You can read entire short texts while walking or driving by (example: my bulletin board in hallway of Exquisite Corpse text-excerpts). [10 Dec.]

§ Christmas IS media? Even the shepherds had to be told (by angels) of the significance of what was going on. Christmas songs, stories — but more broadly, Christmas is a human event (of course) — food, presents — it’s things we do special for each other [14 Dec.]

Harvested cornfield, Ogle County, Illinois, afternoon of 15 Dec. 2020.

§ Yesterday as a day full of moments — momentary experiences. There’s no experience of yesterday (as a unit) — and any store of yesterday is arbitrary. I’ve said before that each thought marks a moment, feels like (creates the feeling of ) the passage of time. Maybe each thought is also its own experience. A report of my day’s experience would be a report of each thought? Though I’m not even aware of every thought, especially when I’m engaged in working. [16 Dec.]

§ There is no perfect story in real experience, no idyllic endings. But no cynicism about that — why should there be tidy endings? We don’t need to be cynical about that. [17 Dec.]

§ Of course others have done similar things before — but you’re doing them now. I saw a cow near a fenceline eating dry (tan) grass this morning, and I thought that a lot of what that cow does, and what I do, has been done by other cows, other people (respectively). But the cow is eating this particular grass this particular day for its particular body’s nourishment. This moment, this act, has historic significance. But even if not for historic significance, there’s now significance. [17 Dec.]

§ This day for me is as open and contingent as any day for anybody ever. My dad’s death day was as open for him as my day today is. [22 Dec.]

§ To sit in a house alone now without media isn’t so different from sitting in a house alone 50, 100, or more years ago. The fashions change, but not the consciousness? [22 Dec.]

§ Each day has tasks and moods. Today’s won’t seem significant by tomorrow — which will have its own. This is living — each day’s journal has (describes) each day’s struggle? Why read those later — to be reminded of this? [23 Dec.]

A farmstead where I lived almost 40 years ago. Track Road, Ashton, Illinois. Photo taken 23 Dec. 2020.

§ Old farms were set up so old farmers could have the conscious experience they wanted. They liked feeding cows, or whatever they did there. What a person’s willing to spend (invest) in buying a store or house or certain equipment to have an experience — I’m not willing to pay for a store, but for notebooks, yes. (And we who live now don’t need to feel guilty if we decline to take on the maintenance burden of earlier generations). [23 Dec. 2020]

She said I’ll be missed, which I will

Worked 10–5. We were ver’ busy. I was on “dress” table, and kept making jokes to keep myself from getting too serious, which helped to keep whole team loose. Ronald came today. B__ and A___ both worked — B__ is ver’ nice. I’ve been friendly with her. Christine expressed her frustration with the McMoron J__ through looks (rolling-eye-type looks) and putting her head on my shoulder, in a sort of giving-up-comfort-me type of  gesture. I said, “you know, Christine, it’s not hard to fill the bun cabinet,” and she said, “I know.” Told Cindy I was leaving soon. She said I’ll be missed, which I will.

Left at 5. Stopped by Subway and bought a pop from S___ to validate my presence. On a second impulse, I went back inside and asked her to coffee. She had to work late and gave me one of those “I don’t know …” kind of looks, which is not unusual, considering she has a boyfriend. But she didn’t say “no” or “I have a boyfriend.” I didn’t consider my offer too forward. Who knows? I said I’d be back before she leaves the 20th.

Home and complained to mom about work. Dad came over. He is rather opinionated and destructive (not a good word) — fiery. Just as I started to nap, Sh____ called and wanted me to come in. I really wasn’t all that interested, but decided that I might as well, since one day she might actually ask me to something interesting.

[From journal of Sat. 7 August 1993 (written 8-8), Journal 4, pages 248-9]