Category Archives: From the journals

I was sorta too tired to not be grumpy with others

Well, went to mom’s for breakfast, stayed until 2:30. How nice an entertaining space the barn is, nice with all that wood around. I talked to B__ for long time about schools and measuring objective performance criteria for job evaluation. I was sorta too tired to not be grumpy with others (I sensed I was about to make a lot of negative categorical statements — as I did to B___, for example, how dumb the decision to …. and also how … (it strikes me now, maybe I shouldn’t have said these things to someone in the educational community. Oh, well, sure it’ll be fine). And so instead of burdening others with my kvetching, I kept it to B___, and I listened to his, and I tried making a couple points, but realized B__ didn’t really want to listen, he wanted to talk, and that’s OK. I stopped trying to make points — why TRY anyway — it felt like trying. All the little niches Mom has in that barn for storing objects. The [facial tissue] box rests at an angle on one of the beam supports.

[From journal of Sun., 12 March 2006, Journal 65, page 85]

In art, I’m looking for ideas for living

I was also gonna say about the CBS story about whether some artists should be … “canceled”: the interesting thing to me to me was the question of whether certain artists’ art should be downplayed, because the flip side is that we weren’t demanding this work in the first place, especially pop songs, TV shows. These were promoted by lots of money from profit-seekers. Nobody asked us if we wanted M. Jackson’s songs. I mean, of course, there was no survey — he and the corporate backers put music out, promoted it, and the people bought the records — so it was a vote by consumption, and — my short answer is, no, I don’t really care if the art from shitty people isn’t so prominent. … In art, I’m looking for ideas for living (and, no, I’m not saying all art should be didactic). I want models for living, ways of living, experiencing, etc., that come from good people. I don’t need stories of people behaving badly — and, no, I wouldn’t seek to regulate some art as degenerate, of course. I just don’t care for it. I don’t see a great loss if I no longer listen to the jokes of a Louis C.K. type, to a person who has disrespectful views and practices. Again, I’m not talking about public regulation. I’m saying, I guess, that nobody owes Louie a career, either. Should D.F. Wallace fail to gain more money because he was an asshole to a lot of women (esp. Mary Karr?) I mean, at some level, it’s a no-brainer: a person can be fired from a job for cause of being rude to colleagues and bosses. Why should artists be any different? And as someone on CBS show said, people are complicated. Sure, I’m not a perfect person, either. … I’m not perfect. Of course, I don’t deserve readers, either. 

[From journal of Sun., 28 March 2021, journal 340, page 137-8]

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]