This is why I have had so many awkward interactions, especially with women

6:00 (A.M., phone time) So, yeah — here I am. I’d thought I could lead off by saying that I realized yesterday that I’m probably “on the spectrum,” autism-wise. I mean, I do feel I can read people’s moods most of the time — people aren’t that opaque to me. On other hand, maybe I’m just German (I watched a couple more German Girl in America videos last night — she said Germans tend not to do small talk).

But I saw yesterday, in a Lithub essay suggesting Thoreau was on spectrum, was not “neurotypical,” that people on spectrum hate to lie, or are very honest. Here and I thought that was an admirable trait! Ah, well. At least I do feel I’ve more-or-less outgrown the sense that I need to try to make friends with colleagues or get them to appreciate my ideas. Ah well. So, but the nice thing I felt yesterday — I laughed about this, I laughed as I read this line — I was alone in my room over lunch — is, OK, so, maybe this is why I just don’t quite get the social scene (M said she too is not neurotypical.. She said last night that she never understood how people — regular people — were satisfied with their regular-people lives — volleyball, for example … these people M knew through church, they played volleyball and had dull-seeming lives. M said she didn’t know how these lives were satisfying. M did say that she liked being on college campuses, around other atypicals.)

So, yeah, I can start to accept this about me. This is why I have had so many awkward interactions, especially with women. But it’s not like I didn’t realize these interactions were awkward!

[From journal of Thurs., 26 Aug. 2021, Journal 346, page 117-8]

Got a C on last quiz … things looking up in Calc.

9-30-1992: Stayed up Tuesday night to see Gramps’s show. … Went to NeXT lab and typed paper. Did revision ’til late tonight. Got back test and quiz. Got a C on last quiz, and 73/100 on test 1. Things looking up in Calc. Took SS120 test — think I did OK. Worked in lab at night and did revisions ’til midnight.

Got back CS211 quiz — 40/40!

Got letter from Kim, wrote back.

10-1-1992: Rabbit, rabbit, etc. Typed Resp. #3 revisions during SS120 — we got out because of test previous night. Watched Kilbourne [sp?] movie in HU — got out early — no teacher. Pep Band. Calc. Wrote to Phoebe & Papa. [Dorm roommate] Gerrad & I went to Jay’s after he quit McD’s. They weren’t home so we drove around. Went back later, then to Jim’s Foodmart. Called mom.

10-2-1992: Did laundry a.m.: 7 washer loads, 5 dryer loads. Only class was CS211, ’cause we took Calc off. Gerrad & I went up to Copper Harbor today. Beautiful — glittering golds, vibrant blood reds. Went to top of Brockway. Took whole roll of 36 exposures.

Ate at McD’s — I bought. Played B-ball with Derik. Went back to house. Watched TV. Went to BK w/ Gramps & Fish. Saw “Basic Instinct” — crowded theater, disappointing movie. 3 sex scenes, Sharon Stone’s breasts, and center-less sex scenes (kissing –> smoking). Art-direction: bright, washed-out scenes contrasted to dark scenes. Close-ups, unattractive, etc. … Got to bed around 1:30.

Sat., 10-3-1992: Got up late — 10 or so. Pep Band — Parade of nations 3 p.m. Interesting marching along sidewalks, no formation, running around the band (“Take the front,” “Take the back”). Met Mom & Dad around 5. We went up to Douglass Houghton Falls and over to McLain State Park. I drove. Then we unloaded and went to Hardee’s for dinner. Heard a Yooper in Hardee’s. Hardee’s is nice — it hasn’t been destroyed like BK & McDonald’s (by college students). Watched TV with Mom & Dad at Holiday Motel. Got back around 11 p.m.

Sun., 10-4-1992: Up early — 7:30. Breakfast at 8. Mom & Dad brought all kinds of stuff — box full of chips & crackers, 3 trays of cookies, disks[?], mail, mags, bum clothes, flannel shirts,. They took home trombone & tackle box, etc. Left at 9:30. Their leaving was harder on me than before. I bought paper, then tried to write a letter — I was sad and a little homesick. I cried. Intellectually I know that there’s nothing really for me at home. I’d just like to see the family. There isn’t much to do at home, but I just feel trapped here — like I couldn’t go home (or anywhere) even if I wanted to. I prepared the letter to send, but I don’t think I will. It’ll depress mom too much.

Did a little homework — read CS. Went over to Jay’s. We played B-ball with Griz[?], Gerrad, Jay, Derick and I. Kim called — talked for 1 hour. Her roommate Trish sounds neat (but, really, on the phone …)

Well, enough for the writing exercise.

Up ’til 1:30.

[From Journal 3, pages 271-272]

As I walk past the houses where I know the residents

As I walk past the houses where I know the residents — that is, anytime I’m outside my house in my neighborhood — I’m aware that we don’t get along. That [one neighbor] thinks our place is eyesore, that [another neighbor] is obnoxious, and [a third neighbor] is loud. Most of the others I don’t have relationships with. It’s only when I’m in the house that I can forget about these neighbors. Ah, well. Some we like, sure, but most we’re neutral-to-sour on. Ah, well.

And, yeah, I also had thought about experience as a noun —

But let me finish earlier point: had I lived in a communal setting, I might have had to learn to get along better. Maybe it was living in my own house that allowed me to get weird, get baroque in my personality, and now I need that alone-time — such that if my house ever did get destroyed and we needed to live at a place for a few weeks or months, I couldn’t really live with anybody else — I couldn’t move into a relative’s house, say.

[From journal of Sat., 18 Sept. 2021, Journal 347, page 26]

Cleave these completed poems! August 2021 notes

A bee’s under-milkweed respite from rare rainfall (we’re inches below normal this summer). 21 Aug.

† I could look in tree bark or other textures for quasi-letter shapes, words, sentences — yes, it’s interpretive, but kind of a cool random-writing/interpretive idea, not so different from Poetry Bingo [an activity in my creative writing class] or from that stone that was interpreted as having runes but it was decided they were glaciation marks — a human’s judgment. [4 Aug. 2021]

Blueberries in cereal milk. 2 Aug.

‡ Story, telling stories: One, a story describes distant actions. To tell a story on paper and to read a story someone else wrote, both writer and reader are distant from the experiences described in the story. Two, how one tells the story, constructs it from one’s perspective (but carefully, being fair to others there who may hear it). I’m more aware than ever … that a story is an argument from one that one’s experience and one’s reaction to it are justified — “I was justified in getting mad because” of the story I tell. [6 Aug.]

Resurrection lily up close. 10 Aug.

† “Have you heard the story about” X event, we say, or we say, “have you heard about” X event. It’s interesting that we refer to stories about events rather than events themselves. But, of course, if I’m not present at the event, I do know only the story (and not the event itself) and illustrative pics & videos. [10 Aug.]

“The bronze ink of underworld waterfalls” grabbed my attention when I found these last-used-years-ago transparencies in my classroom. I think my students and I had been writing a poem together here. 13 Aug.

† Arts reports in news programs give more attention to what’s already getting attention. [16 Aug.]

Ogle County life: crayfish on Weld Park soil. 15 Aug.

‡ My journal bits aren’t parables. But there is an implication of … of what, exactly? Of recording, writing? Of any moment being interesting? [18 Aug.]

Justice Cat recuperating at home after an illness. 7 Aug. 2021

† “Pull up your sock, Justice!” I keep telling my cat. His shaved band on his right front leg looks like he’s got a sock drooping down. [19 Aug.]

‡ Anything and everything people do for money is foolish (at some level) in the sense that it’s not authentically you. It’s a game of meeting others’ expectations. [20 Aug. 2021]

† Consistency in intellectual positions is a value, but there’s no need for consistency (it’s not a value or standard) in living a life! I can change my opinions, have contradicting or differing ideas on different days of my journals — and that’s OK! Maybe intellectual argument positions should be consistent, but a living person’s views don’t have to be! [20 Aug. ]

A prairie plant in my stepdad’s plantings. 20 Aug.

‡ There’s no need for me to get my writing into competition for publication, attention. I heard my local NPR station’s promos for people to send in poems to be read online or to send in back-to-school “perspectives” (90-second essays). But I have no need to submit my writings for comparison to others’ writings! My writings are my own! I feel no (or very little) need to compare my writings to others’, to compete with others’ — my writings are mine, are from my life — that’s all. No other standards matter! [20 Aug.]

† At lunch today, I read in article at LitHub the line: “One of the traits most commonly associated with people on the spectrum is an inability to lie” — and I laughed: That’s me! And I’ve suspected my spectrum-place. [25 Aug.]

‡ Writers must model other minds, to see if what we’re thinking and saying would be explicable to (and interesting to, and persuasive to?) other minds. [25 Aug.]

† Of course I didn’t have lots of girlfriends — I wasn’t typical! I was seeking deep connection. The existence of atypicals undermines the necessity of the normals’ norms — the normals’ choices, too, are arbitrary, and the atypicals reveal that (by contrast)! [26 Aug.]

A view of my summer morning commute — contrast to winter ones posted earlier. This is facing south on Church Road, south of Route 64. 26 Aug. 2021.

‡ Residing in realm of “we don’t know” (vs. “we know”). Knowing ideas is not knowing the world. Characterizing is inadequate. I could spend more time not-knowing (meditating)? But, I’m giving up certainty. Sometimes I assert things but I also question — and by writing, I empty my mind to paper. A goal of being wise as knowing nothing (not being misled by flawed ideas)? Related points: my wait-and-see attitude toward [a family situation]? And the arrogance of selling “solutions,” as some companies sell themselves as doing. [27 Aug.]

† No branding is needed for my journals. There’s no need to stand out by a simple brand. Like a fingerprint, people’s journals have so many differences from each other. And showing off, showing one’s credentials, is not needed for intimacy. You like my voice or no. [27 Aug.]

‡ No one lives in historical time, the time-mood in which people look back  at the past. Even people 100s or 1000s of years ago live in present-to-them time, as we do now. [30 Aug.]

Cloudbreak over student parking lot, from my supervision post. 23 Aug.

† Poems unfinished — poems like my drawings left to viewers to interpret. Viewers can find a recognizable thing in one part (not a whole-image portrait). Creative readings of published poems — cleave these completed poems to make them more interesting for me to read. Read just the first halves of lines to free my mind from too-familiar patterns. Pushing back against obnoxious control of the author over their published poem — as if the writer’s mind could be better than randomness or better than silence. Let texts be as wild and unexpected as experiences! I could rewrite each new issue of American Poetry Review as it arrives! Why should I read text in the way the author wants me to? Why not read every other world or paragraph or …? (Yes, I’ve said “read creatively” before, but it seems more profound, more freeing, today!) Freeing the mind from having to “get” the single pattern of a text. The power of short sentences in my creative readings, in my McKuen erasures. [30 Aug.]

‡ I like creative reading because I’ve read too many stories. I’ve heard the same songs on radio, and the same kinds of songs, too often. So I mess with them. I may not always have the mental energy needed to play with texts (creative reading) but I am pretty sick of existing ideas — play isn’t too tiring. [31 Aug.]

† What happens to Matt (to me), I thought as I walked hallway to get to photocopier, might just not matter that much. What I think of it is the interesting-to-others (possibly) part. Whether Matt lives to 48 or 88, whether he publishes or not, gets cancer or not — these aren’t so interesting as events. So maybe I shouldn’t (and maybe I already don’t) write about experiences as all that interesting — except as parts of the world that passed through my mind. [31 Aug. 2021]

I wondered yesterday if I look old enough to qualify for senior discount

I wondered yesterday if I look old enough to qualify for senior discount of 5% on Tuesdays at Felker’s. How busy that place seemed yesterday, at least in parking lot. The snow falls. Stickers [“YES” in white letters on green square & “MAYBE” in black on yellow square] are from an NEA-endorsed California Casualty (I think) car-insurance offer. It might be cheaper, but I want a local agent.

And yeah, so I’m debating whether to submit my poems to Poetry mag — only 4 at a time, and it might take me 5 months — well, 4, their website’s submission page said — to hear back. I mean, I can wait, but, blerg, do I really care enough to want to bother with Poetry mag? I mean, what good would getting published do for me? It’d be kinda nice, I guess — but, eh — the downside is that, well, it’d seem to take an attitude toward poetry and publishing that I may not want to take. I don’t want to please editors or compete with others, even if I could compete credibly.

I mean, I like the fun I’m having with writing poems lately, whether with Magpo.com as on Friday or with the radical editing of Rod McKuen’s poems over recent weeks — and maybe my Rod McKuen re-edits wouldn’t stand on their own as well as they stand next to, and in contrast of, Rod’s poems. I mean, my point is, I think, that I love writing poems, the process, and the poems that are left really are almost the by-product of that experience. I’m not sure my poems are that great, on their own, as if I were to publish them in Poetry mag. But that my poems on my blog are just one aspect of my creativity, of the model of creative life I’m living — not quite that. That the poems, the journals, the drawings and photos, that all of these together are — are what? All these are together the image I want to show others? Well, yes, but no — more like, I want to show a life lived creatively — is that it? That I want to show others a way to live? That’s typically what I’m looking for in others’ art and in biographies and memoirs and philosophies — and so this is also what I want to show: I want to say that I’m not just a crafter of poems but that I’m an interesting person — that I’m still learning, and not trying to be a pedagogue — but that I do love doing art things, more than I want to sell these art things.

[From journal of Monday, 23 March 2015, Journal 206, page 58-9 ]

Just now a robin hopped

Just now a robin hopped to within inches of sliding doors on deck, then flew to deck rail and was at the northeast corner — but before I could write “corner,” it had flown away. 

I wanna say I first saw robins 10 days ago, maybe 2 weeks. But I do feel bad for them when there’s snow — how and what do they eat? Baby owls eat earthworms before they can really hunt. Documentary last night said owls hit their prey hard, with up to the force of 12 times body weight, in order to crush it. 

[From journal of Tues., 24 March 2015, Journal 206, page 64]

‘I never knew you could leave someone out of the two of us’: Exquisite Corpse poems, Fall 2021

Here are this semester’s Creative Writing classes’ poems written in the Exquisite Corpse method.  What I love about these lines is how they were created almost randomly but have a kind of weird logic. I like how some of these seem almost brilliant, in an obtuse way. See here for previous semesters’ poems. Punctuation was added, but the words below appear in the order they were written in the Exquisite Corpse poems made in class recently.

I never knew you could leave someone out of the two of us.

For the first time in time, we will see.

Your mom is always yelling about 20 years ago today.

I want to leave me alone right now.

Happy is how I feel sad.

Leave here is today’s homework.

When the crow squeals angrily, screaming bloody hell, murder on my little mind is.

I want to stop believing in myself.

Father is very cold when alligators are very rideable.

Cats and dogs tear flesh off the night.

Pretty girls make me nervous about little things like asteroids hitting the moon.

Time doesn’t always affect me because I rode motorcycles.

Is this the end of the end of the best part of me?

Extinct is what people call me.

Hard times are happening now.

Last week is way too long.

Can we please make out with friends and Clifford?

The solar system of equations in math will eventually kill me.

I just lost my knee.

Swim in a pool of your new sweat.

Wear your best dress. We will never die and stop and go, and, without it, there’s nothing.

Animal abuse is not ever going to stop at Stop signs.

Warm hot days are cracked eggs.

You need to get the teardrops on my guitar.

The right word can make other words.

The Bakers lived like no one watched when you are grilling my hot dogs in summer.

My friend, are you ready to go away and leave?

Do you think of me when I sing loud noises like fireworks exploding bombs?

Everywhere we go there is extremely sad and boring old teachers.

I don’t know what I am trying.

You’re a very special friend of mine; why are people alive any more?

OK, I was off my phone for a while there

OK, I was off my phone for a while there, but now, about 3:10 p.m., I’m looking at AVClub, maybe briefly.

Phone [is put] away a couple minutes later. There’s gray woodgrain on short perpendicular wall to my left. There is texture to some apparent saw cuts but I don’t know, can’t say for sure, that it’s not some veneer product, some pressed sawdust thing. But, you know, the beautiful thing is that I don’t need to! I mean, how much I used to criticize fakeness in my journals from my earlier days — aged 19, 20, maybe — (well, I’m remembering sometimes where I did that, at least) — but now I don’t seem to care so much. Those things don’t seem to matter as much to me now. Maybe I, like so many others, do just want to be fed, warm, comfortable, safe — all these simple things. And yet, (a woman, maybe? in mirrored yellowish sunglasses and hair off forehead and looking at a cell phone and sitting with her back to west wall, looked 2 or 3 distinct (head-turned times) as the rainbow-suspenders girl left — was sunglasses checking her out?) Perhaps there’s an impulse, perhaps I feel an impulse, to reconcile everything — sitting here in a Starbucks on a Monday afternoon with the white pine wavering in breeze but staying in place with the cars zooming by on the road — only way to reconcile these in ideas is to go abstract.

It’s banal of me to sit here and write — maybe not “banal,” exactly, but common, unimpressive — for me, at least, even if it’d be surprising for others, certain others, to do this … Anyway, doesn’t matter. It’s common for me to do this (“how sweet it is to be loved by you” — the tambourine-heavy, non-(pre-?) James Taylor version. It is a Carole King song, right?) And yet it’s also kinda incredible that I’m a living being (and all living beings have DNA, right? Except virus with its RNA? But that’s kinda incredible, too, right? Suggesting a common start to life?). Well, it’s 3:26 p.m. I’ve got M’s only transport. I should probably shop and get back, see what Easter candy is at Woodman’s. Could use some of those bird-egg malted-balls things. I’m getting banal in talking about what’s banal and what’s not! Ha. (“I’ll be there” song now. Mostly I haven’t noticed the songs.) Ah, well. There remain the issues — like how is it that I’m a living being sitting here writing shit down, thinking, using a symbol system common to my culture? I’m doing what all humans are capable of doing, and I’m using words and ideas that aren’t all that hard to find in the culture I grew up within (and was educated within). I’m not all that special just because I write. Maybe there is something relatively unique in my — in how I think, or in what drives me to think, or how I’d like l [colleagues] to talk to me (to address an earlier-this-writing-session concern), but that I also don’t care too much about that. Friends seem harder to make these days, but mostly I’m too busy and tired to worry about that anyway.

[From journal of Mon., 21 March 2016, Journal 224, page 36-8]

Covering up clocks and leaving TV and phone alone

M knows me so well. She came in after I had tonight’s burritos eaten. Stuff (fixin’s) still were out but I’d eaten all black beans. M wanted refried anyway. 1st time for that dinner in a few weeks. And M came home and saw both clocks covered by [self-adhesive notepapers] and she guessed I was doing some time experiment.

It’s odd that time passes, seems to pass, quickly when I’m not paying attention to it (when I’m in engaged mind) (and the evening routine I had was OK — as a routine, it was familiar, calming, but not all that satisfying). …

When someone (or I) says it’s hard to believe the fall semester’s done already, or “I can’t believe I’m 85 — what happened to the time?” (“Helen Wheels,” at Thanksgiving dinner), that’s only because you’re forgetting every moment. (It seemed a little mean to tell Mich. and Dan at Xmas that I didn’t like Helen, but, well, when old people are assholes, this is why young people stay away.)

Anyway, yes, so, it’s as if there’s this whole world, whole different mindset, different way of thinking of and living in the world, that is so close, so easy to switch to, but I seldom do — I tend to turn the TV on rather than sit in silence, or sit and stitch a book without distraction, paying no (OK, less) attention to clock last night. It’s like I was the dog — just, you know, not comparing now to then (an hour ago, 10 years ago — that, too, is abstract, is an abstraction).

6:40 now. I should go and leave time to drive — no call to cancel school came.

It’s something — being mindful is something I’ve tried doing before. What I did last night felt like a backdoor way to get to the same place (without the formality of mental burden of MEDITATION, that being scary thing (as Jen Kirkman said in her comedy special we watched last weekend)). And I didn’t suspect that it’d be as easy as covering up clocks and leaving TV and phone alone.

And somehow this all connects with my journals as particular, as not-news, but something besides that (not quite sure what), something more timeless possibly? And my journals — even today’s, once it’s written, isn’t all that different — doesn’t look different (except for dates recorded with the words) from journals written years ago!

Time, and temperature, too — knowing the number makes me colder. Prioritize subjective experience over facts/objective!

In mornings, though, before school, I am on the clock.

[From journal of Tues., 10 Jan. 2017, Journal 244, pages 150-3]

The cat with ear-edges serrated by frost bite.

M said religious people like to tell how all their experiences have meanings. That sounds like exactly what I have been trying to get over in the last several years. So, yeah, I’m not sure what is the purpose of reading (well, entertainment?) or writing fiction (other than, like with poets and poetry, one wants to craft a clever or moving performance for an audience).

Were I to argue with Laura Miller — see yesterday’s journal entry/journal text where I pointed out how harsh L. Miller was to Popova book. I mean, I trust my judgment as well as hers on literary topics. She’s not special, exactly — but I doubt I’d get her to share my values.

I watched just a few minutes — a couple minutes? Not long —of Today show this morning. I read on my phone for a long while. Yeah, I went to take a pic of vet instructions with my phone’s back-camera, and the pic was fuzzy and I thought lens was dirty but it was cracked and smashed in. Weird that I don’t remember that happening. …

I just had another few sticks of cherry Twizzlers — bought Thursday, brought home from school last night.

Saw the tabby cat at Mom’s house. It left the west-side deck and trotted south. Turn & look, or “stop and look at me,” I said — and then it eventually did, a cat move I wasn’t surprised to see. And I went in house and not long after, I saw what looked like same cat munch on what looked like a female goldfinch, as if cat hunts under the bird feeder. They hadn’t seen a cat kill bird there before, Mom and Bob said. It was the same place I saw a possum a week or two ago. And Mom said “mama cat” — a gray one who had some litters — I’m not sure if it’s the same one I was thinking of, which was the one with ear-edges serrated by frost bite.

[From journal of Sat., 2 March 2019, Journal 297, page 157-9]