Category Archives: From the journals

Creating as sitting and seeing what happens

I put some Nina Simone in [the CD player]. Not sure she’s as helpful for creating as word-less music. I said to Mom last night that words don’t have the sensory impact that visual art & music do —though spoken/sung words are more immediate than words on paper.

So, I like the idea from page 62: creating as sitting and seeing what happens.

Just now I feel urge to write that Ian, next door boy, is covering his partial plywood sheet leaning against blocks of snow. He’s putting a layer of snow on the plywood.

I should nap now, as M is doing.

[From journal of Sunday, 26 Feb. 2012, Journal 154, page 64]

The silliness that kept it somewhat interesting

The women there were mothers who had no choice, needed to support their families, and yet still see them, so they worked 3rd [shift]. Avery was not a career move for the binder ladies. [This sentence dated 9/15]

Little ladies who came in at 5 a.m. every morn to punch index dividers.

Sue C___ — talk we had the last night of overtime — she wants to be E.M.T.

All those women there who got trapped/thrown into this situation, no choice but factory work. Didn’t want 2nd shift — couldn’t see their kids at all if they worked 2nd.

My little black book.

The silliness that kept it somewhat interesting — I think it was something like a release valve: the throwing of paper balls, Sam and her stickers, Debbie and her lewd comments — Jeanie on her knees — “why don’t you wait ’til Ed gets here so it’ll do you some good”

Sam telling me to go get the hand fork by pumping her hand up and down, looked like masturbation.

[From journal of 5 Sept. 1994, “Work at Avery” factory, Journal 6, page 145. See more about this place, written on same day, here.]

‘Purpose is just an illusion of dreams and desires’

Anyway, I don’t want to get caught up in abstractions and outrages and abstract outrages. I thought about telling M about the ___ but then I thought, meh, I could confine this to my journal and not demand M’s attention. And after I thought of letting go, I felt lighter, unburdened, and more conscious/aware of being alive here and now.

On my camera — no, my phone’s — photos, I saw a pic I took earlier this week, a pic of one of the sayings on (one of the Exquisite Corpse poems) the hallway billboard. It seemed key, somehow, pertinent to me at that moment when I took pic (and here’s what I photo’d): “Purpose is just an illusion of dreams and desires.” (Of course this wasn’t the only saying from Ex. Corpse in the pic — there’s also: “So I learned a new chapter in life: You only live once. Or twice.”)

[From journal of Thurs., 26 Nov., 2020, Journal 335, pages 83+]

Sometimes, I’d like that person not to have to be me

There’s a sense in my hetero relationship — maybe in most hetero relationships — that the man’s in charge of house repairs, car maintenance, etc., fixing physical problems — and sometimes, I’d like that person not to have to be me — ha! I mean, no, it’s a natural role for me to fill — I don’t know much about cars , but I can change headlights, can do some things. … And, no, I’m not really saying I mind playing that role of husband — house-bound, the property manager, the fixer of problems not-emotional, not-social. I’m not saying I mind it, but I might be a little jealous, at moments, of not having my own bigger, stronger person to take care of sh!t, of having a real adult around to watch for housefires, kinda like I had when living in my Papa‘s house, I guess, it now occurs to me. And, no, I’m not afraid of having my own house now, as I once may have been. We can call repair dudes — and if we had money, we could get siding or other things replaced.  … Women joke that they wish they had a wife to cook & clean & mend & sh!t. I can joke here I wish I had a husband to do car maintenance — oh, yeah, my right rear car wheel locked up again yesterday morning — felt hot and smelled hot by time I got to school, and it was about -12° F. or -14° F. at [my school] when I got there (I think my car said -12° F., but it’s usually about 2° warm) and as I held my hand near the wheel to feel the warmth (a poetic-sounding line), I noticed steam coming off my fingers (and not the wheel) and my fingers didn’t even feel sweaty or weird.

[From journal of Tues., 4 Feb. 2014, Journal 191, page 136-138]

I do want to ignore the clocks I could look at

I’m not sure what time it is, and I do want to ignore the clocks I could look at. I’m guessing it’s around 8:45, based on the TV show (Hallie Jackson in for Will-he Geist on Today) — and yeah, yeah — M’s up since a little after 8. Walked dog … Sam didn’t wanna turn right there onto that street back to ___. Sam’s outside. He got [his cable] wrapped around tree and I let him off and he was being so calm and gentle. And I came in and stretched and saw him in same spot and went out again (temps in 40°s [F.] this morning, not too bad) and he showed me his belly and I scratched it. And I went to smell hyacinths on east side of house. I smelled the one west of garage door the last day or two. It’s probably late in April for hyacinths, but, well, that wouldn’t be a surprise, considering the cold. Last night I ate two bowls popcorn in late p.m., walked dog, and watched the 1968 Thos. Crown Affair (I like that abrev. for “Thomas”: “Thos.”) and it was stylish, I’ll give it that.

[From journal of Sun., 22 April 2018, Journal 275, page 90]

To decline what can’t help me

I’m not a leader or a server. I mostly want to — feel I got to, need to — follow my own path and sh!t. I’m at a point where I don’t — not that I can’t take advice from others, but that I — it’s important for me to know when to say no, to decline what can’t help me, to quit when that feels right. For example, I looked at a 1980-era … booklet Mom gave me about teaching poetry — sh!t, it’s bad. It’s — I can’t believe how bad it is: teachers who are sure that what kids need is to use specific imagery, to show-don’t-tell, and that literature communicates an experience (which is B.S. — as I’ve been saying lately, you can’t communicate experience).

Now, I don’t generally want to define my ideas in opposition to bad ones. Even if a dumb thing sparks an idea, you can still let the dumb idea go. But I got no useful ideas there for teaching poetry — OK, one or two minor ones, but nothing great, specific, that I can use today to teach in Creative Writing 2.

[From journal of Tues., 14 “Janviary” 2014, Journal 191, page 5]

I gave up that thought and felt relieved

Ready for bed at 9:30 tonight — earlier than recent Sundays and earlier than recent nights. Watched “Lord of the Rings: Fellowship” movie last night. It’s been out since Xmas but I’ve resisted watching it, didn’t want those characters to be in my head when reading the books but movie was well-reviewed and so we went.

I picked up a message there of personal discipline and self-sacrifice. I think how weak I’ve been of late — lots of sweets and TV, etc. No liquor or cigs lately, so not horribly unhealthy, just moderately so. But also, no school work done today.

Here’s the thing: about noon today, I had a clarity of thought: a choice of either (A) working all day to get caught up grading and planning for week ahead or (B) simply taking the day to relax. And I almost had enough energy and drive for A but not quite. I watched too much TV to completely do B either, though our walk to quarry and sitting in sun then talking to L. was relaxing. My shoulders relaxed and lowered. We were gone an hour and a half to 2 hours.

Telescoping back: today’s exercise was good but I haven’t exercised much at all this winter. But then warm temps (warmest ever on record, I heard) prevented winter sports and also I’ve been sick and/or busy.

But talking to mom last week, I realized I’m starting to feel much better as the days lengthen. Maybe I do have mild depression in winter? That would explain my funk, my lack of drive or desire — not profound, but I don’t feel like doing anything, and yet wasn’t relaxed either.

And today, too, I felt I couldn’t take the day totally off — pressures to do work. I realized I sort of need to work weekends this first year — a shame, that, because I really need at least one day a weekend to relax. And as a teacher, I have work do to weekends, or after work. At any rate, some work to be done outside class.

But it’s so easy for me to give myself pressures. Got to feeling mindful while sitting on picnic table, facing sun, with M., finally living in the moment, without thinking of “should” or “have to.” When I thought how pretty it was and that I should take pics of quarry floor before water rises — another “should” — I gave up that thought and felt relieved.

[From journal of Sun., 24 Feb. 2002, Journal 30, page 342]

Alone for 3 hours gives a chance to reflect

Got up and did [college radio] show at 9 – noon. Much nicer time than last term. Somehow, though, I just didn’t feel like doing the show this a.m.  —residue of my poor outlook of last week, I think.  I also needed to wake up earlier than 8:15, just so can get alert and into character by the time of the show.

Did homework for much of day — read many pages in Chaucer [this book, I think it was]. The nap I took in p.m. really helped me stay alert for reading in early eve. Called mom — she wasn’t home, so she called back when I was in study lounge. Then she called back at 9:30, when she said she would call at 9. I did some calc afterwards.

Short ideas —

– personal nature of radio show.  It’s me and the audience.  I choose the music, what I say, etc.  Alone for 3 hours gives a chance to reflect.

– technology -> nerds? Sure, there are weird people in humanities, but not so many anti-social nerds. Is there something about science/technology which creates nerds?

[Journal of Sun., 14 March 1993, written 20 March 1993]

To buy is a specific act. To not buy is not an act.

The thing is, I should start saving money, just for the sake of being frugal and to further my larger goal of saving a down-payment on a house in this Near West Side, between-downtown-Urbana-and-the campus neighborhood. (The house across street that, just Thursday night, I indicated to D.G. as a house I would like to buy, went up for sale.)

And I have gone through book-0buysing spells like this before — summer of ’93 an example. I wonder if I’m a tad of a compulsive (“impulse” is more-appropriate word) buyer — because while I normally have a strong money-saving sense, my lust for books seems to overpower it. If this is a compulsion, it would be the other half to my obsessive behavior — double checking stove burners to make sure they’re off, and “notebook-wallet-keys” to make sure all are in my pockets.

But I don’t really think so. I’m not clinical. Sometimes I do put books back, telling myself I really don’t have time to read them, and that I can buy them later (sometimes the fear is that they’ll be gone later , and sometimes the fear is I won’t remember to buy them later).

And maybe the problem is partly one of existence. To buy is a specific act, and a book, a specific thing. To not buy is not an act; it’s a continuing condition of refrain from, and as such gives the positive act an overshadowing power that continues to haunt and influence after I leave the store. Every time I go back, I have to renew my resolve not to buy. And it’s (almost) impossible to use a negative state as a guiding principle because the anti-X statement inherently postulates and affirms the existence of X. The only successful response is to replace the statement or belief “anti-X” with positive statement of belief “Y” (Matt Nixon’s paper on “Forrest Gump” explains and credits this idea — as it relates to myths — to Barthes.). This idea like quitting smoking: gum or carrot sticks, if used as substitutes for cigs in the mouth and /or hands, merely remind of cigs.

So books — I think my motivation in buying is different this time from before. This time, I feel kinda like how N. described his buying of CDs when he was unhappy with his job. He was unhappy with work but he had to keep his job, and so he had cash and little time or freedom — so he bought CDs.

I like my job — I just wish I didn’t spend so much time doing it. I have cash but no time, so I buy books because it is fun, enjoyable to buy books, and I’m not fetishizing these books. I would like to — do intend to — read them. But I just don’t have time. However, I guess that I am fetishizing the books in the sense that I am buying/consuming objects, and that the act of obtaining is pleasant and that therefore, I am taking a materialistic view of these objects that are, in their creators’ purpose, idea-vehicles rather than commodities. (For the publisher and marketer, books are commodities — sales-objects, material, but for the artist, a book isn’t “product” or even “content” (I hate the currently fashionable use of that word to mean facts, numbers, stories, visual art and music in a publishing or media context, as if they are all interchangeable, for one thing. It’s very condescending and telling about the attitudes of publishers.) To an author, a book is the “story,” the “argument,” the structured (as opposed to a list of numbers) ideas. It’s the result (by my definition of art as the result of a certain mental state) of mental concentration, of putting ideas and words in their proper (according to inherent structure of the work) order.

[From journals of Sun., 8 Feb. 1998, Journal 21, pages 9-12]

We sat in shade of a small tree in parking lot and ate

Home about 5 or after, after M. and I got Beef-Roo at place a couple blocks southwest of State & Perryville and we sat in shade of a small tree in parking lot and ate. I had veg. burger with Swiss & fries & some of M’s chocolate shake. At one point, on drive home, I wanted more shake and I found more shake! (I also texted Doug last evening some pics I took off ABC News (on TV) of Hurricanes Douglas and Hanna — Doug and his daughter are hurricaning (I verbed it).

I got some red screws 3″ long, densely threaded, Phillips heads, out of one part of the ledger board Saturday night. I need to get wheel barrow & rake for making our concrete for pads (not posts) for deck. I need too to clear a place in garage for ladder and wheelbarrow.

I like that idea yesterday (pg. 119, I think) of thinking of these journals as improvs — improv sessions, or jam sessions. People don’t market jam sessions (though there were recorders of G.Dead concerts. And fans swapped bootlegs. People liked to groove (after getting high?) on a jam session. It’s harder to follow along when high to a text — though reading my texts would still provide an experience.

[From journal of Mon., 27 July 2020, Journal 328, pgs. 123-4]