Category Archives: Uncategorized

We can’t be any more than friends: Random bits from Journal 13

At Copy-Editing Camp. PHILADELPHIA, Pa.–Temple University, New Residence Hall on Broad Street, Room 213A. Not a whole lot to say yet. I already wrote about the bad neighborhood and the security measures of this building. Felt a little dazed most of the afternoon. Made it into the city; I didn’t feel all that stressed, but I must’ve been because of the sweat was pouring out of my armpits. I think that took its toll, because I felt a little dazed, just out of it, the rest of the evening. We took three cars to dinner at Chili’s, and as I am the only one [of the students] who drove here, I drove my car with 3 people in it–Marilyn, Annette, and Robb, so it was tight in there. Then on the way back, My-Linh got lost and made me run red lights to follow her, so I didn’t much like that. But for my first bit of city driving, not bad. Marilyn, who’s from NYC–Queens–said she respected my ability to keep up with My-Linh–not an easy task. It really wasn’t too bad. I was concentrating on not losing My-Linh so much that I didn’t think about “Driving in the City.” Near Temple, it’s not good. Marilyn once pointed to a corner and said, “There’s a good place for a crime.” [Page 178, Sunday, 26 May 1996]

The ideas I had last weekend about motion and my friend S--cars and their coming into contact, which is not prevented by anything in nature. There is nothing, no laws in nature, that says these two cars can’t touch–no concrete barrier–yet we come at each other at 60 miles an hour and come within a foot or two–mere inches–and expect to never crash. Like I wrote last week, it wasn’t only drunk driving that killed S, it’s motion–change, the change made possible by time. The fact that we can change (position) in a moment allows for motion, and two objects in motion toward each other, intent on occupying the same physical location at the same time–this is deadly. [Page 105-6, Sat. 9 March 1996, at Petro]

The four of us roommates–we all have very specific relationships with each other. How DK said middle-aged businessmen are dispassionate, resigned to jobs they don’t care about. [Page 62, 6 Feb. 1996, night]

C did say tonight that she had never thought I would feel rejected. She thought my problem is that I never had a girl-friend before–not so. I’m just not sure where our intimacy is, what my motivation is to care about her. Last week, after Sunday, was cool because we were just casual friends. I was over her, but then Saturday, she called twice and came over and told me she loved me, etc. She did say she wasn’t sure why she did stuff like that. I wonder if she isn’t somehow attracted–but she later said that she just feels like telling people (including me) how she feels about them, whether that’s selfish or not. So I’m still learning about myself her, though this. … She’s always saying how well I know her–well, maybe, but I’ve never felt she knows me, even though she did say today that she felt from me that I would like to be friends in my heart but my head said no–true to a point. [Page 26, 22 January 1996]

In January, I told C that I had felt rejected when she said she didn’t want me to have any “ulterior motives” and then when she started up with another guy … She seemed to not understand that I would feel that way. Here’s my hypothesis: she wasn’t telling me I was a bad person, but that I wasn’t the perfect person for her—I didn’t fit her standard of the ideal man. But I felt bad–and, no, I didn’t feel that I was a bad person, but I wanted her—her company, her whatever it is that we say we want when we say we “want” somebody. The thing is that I valued her judgment–I had adopted her standards and value system as my own. OK, so maybe this isn’t what I felt–I felt her loss, the end of something, a death, an end. But the idea that I am trying to describe tonight is different—how you take on the other’s value system (in a Sartrean sense) and so when the other refuses us, we mistake her personal ideal, which is not an External Standard, with some permanent value system–that because I don’t match her personal idea, that I am truly a bad person in an objective sense. [Page 125, 14 March 1996, 10:20 p.m. Petro]

I don’t want long-distant relationship—I want a full relationship of touching, sharing, talking—being together. M is a neat person–one of the prettiest, hottest women I’ve ever known, smart, ambitious, funny, up-beat–it will a long time before I will meet anyone like her again. But we can’t be any more than friends–having not even kissed, I don’t think we will or can–that would introduce too much. I mean, we could kiss, but that would be hurried and shallow. Then again, not to attribute our weird vibe tonight to such cosmic unfairness as our short time together. She may have been cooler towards me tonight, somewhat less sympathetic, less excited, because of a basic dousing of whatever spark was there. I don’t know why–hell, if I did … [Page 157, Monday night, 15 April 1996]

Idea-Realm: Random bits of Journal 175

§ I’m just so tired. Oh, M and I had Mexican food about 4:30 til 5:07. We were too late afterwards to go sign stuff at bank. M didn’t mention it ’til 5:07, and we had to be there by 5–and blerg. And blerg again. This is a blergy mindset I’m in. Blerg blerg blerg. Moving on. [Page 294, Thurs. 25 April 2013]

§ Sam’s adorable. He so deliberately takes the mostly empty cottage cheese container from his food spot in pantry over to the carpeting–just because the carpet’s easier to push against. My dog’s a tool-user? Woah– [Page 256, Tues. 23 April 2013]

§ Garbage morn. Escapey cat silently (well, I didn’t hear him) pulled the unlatched door open and got into garage. I got him back with a cheese treat, though he didn’t eat sprinkles (“cheese from Heaven” or “it’s raining cheese” — how does M say it?) [Page 510, Tues. 7 May 2013]

§ I had a thought last night that I don’t really care so much about posting stuff to my blog. What I said yesterday about my process–my lifestyle, my way of life being a writer–was that I don’t care so much about external [things], and the blog is mostly external. Main reason I’m keeping it going is as a place for my students to read my work. [Page 549, Fri. 10 May 2013]

§ Some dude on TV gave the argument that Illinois should have concealed carry since every other state does–as if that were a good argument. That same person would likely not use that same argument (the “others do it, too” argument) if he disagreed with the policy. Maybe an argument is invalid if it can also be used for opposing policies? [Page 27, Weds. 10 April 2013]

§ Maybe language is great for criticizing, or better for criticizing than praising? There’s “damning with faint praise,” and there’s implicit criticism of those who are not praised while others are. [Page 214, Sun. 21 April 2013]

§ Now I’m much less stressed than I was Monday about dog walk, but it still feels like a burden to have to think about this other dog. [Page 273, Weds. 24 April 2013]

§ When I question ideas and theories, when I say things like “we know nothing,” then that can sound nihilistic (and get into that paradox of knowing that we know nothing). But I had the thought yesterday that I’m not being nihilistic. Rather, I want to keep an open mind–a mind not limited by what others have already said and proclaimed. Not nihilism but openness, a sense of possibility–possibility comes from not holding onto our ideas too tightly. [Page 435-6, Fri. 3 May 2013]

§ Now, this particular moment, I feel tired. Feelings are mainly–only?–in the present.  If we remember how we felt in the past, that’s a memory of a feeling. And we can think about distant times and places and feel, but those feelings are still in the present. Well, for that matter, everything is in the present. [Page 423-4, Fri. 3 May 2013]

§ And what else? Ah, probably nothin’! It’s just another rainy day in April–no farmwork yet. Our forsythia hasn’t yet bloomed, though it may soon. And what else? Well, there isn’t–doesn’t need to be anything particularly new to say. All the houses today seem to be in the same place they were yesterday. [Page 297-8, Thurs. 25 April 2013]

§ I was reminded of that place when I read parts of Journal 66 that mention it. I liked some things I read in there–what I wrote about visiting Art Institute, and what I wrote about how kids know their mothers’s body better than their father’s — or certainly we did. I did in my family. [Page 597, Sun. 12 May 2013]

§  Somehow it seems silly to just worry about making things–ideas–to tell other people, to be a good operator in this idea-realm. … Idea-realm as this multidimensional space where, as a person growing up, you don’t understand. Idea-realm is an unknown territory to you. But now, age 39, I feel like I’m mostly familiar, at least with the common ideas. [Page 51-3, Fri. 12 April 2013]

§  “Chewing gum goes in the waste basket not in the urinal” says a taped-up piece of paper above the men’s room appliance named above. In Times New Roman font, 12 point or so size. [Page 470, Sun. 5 May 2013]

§  Last night I went to bank, post office (mailed nine bills), and then Walmart to get snacks–candy, mainly, including chocolate milk, Twizzlers cherry bites, a sleeve of Breath Savers mints, Quaker Oats granola bars, raisins–let’s see, also chocolate chips, Brach’s “bridge mix.” I’ve had desire lately for root-beer barrels sucky candy (“sucky sweets,” as that one theater professor called them). Maybe that’s it– oh, two boxes of multi-fruit Tic Tacs. A lot of crap there. Each different one a different taste/texture of candy: sucky sweets (mints), granola, chewy (bites), chocolate (bridge). And also got shaving cream and hand lotion. [Page 322-3, Sat. 27 April 2013]



“Bubbly ruptures” of fathers, children, homes — Random text bits from Journal 142

I wrote Saturday, I think, or Sunday, that I might need to wrestle with my ideas about Dad. Today, I don’t think I need to be so deliberate as that. Clearly, I have lots of questions still. Since I didn’t — don’t — feel like I knew/know him, since he’s a cipher, an enigma, to me, I’ll have plenty to ponder for, maybe, the rest of my life. [Page 66, Mon. 13 June 2011]

Neighbors — how one is distant from them, one may not like them, even, and yet, in living so close, one is naturally bound to them. They’re gonna see and hear (and smell, potentially) how you live. They’ll see you unwashed, mowing your lawn. … All of one’s home-living — showering, shitting, getting sick, eating, having sex, playing board games, scolding one’s kids — these happen in proximity to others.  [Page 81-82, Thurs. 16 June 2011]

My wife, M, has been saying lately that she’s not sure she wants a kid. She said yesterday that it seems exhausting. But then she smiled at a kid in a cart while his parents weren’t looking, and a couple had a little girl in checkout line ahead of us, and the girl had a little doll she kissed, and the parents didn’t want to take doll from her. They tore off the doll’s tag instead — pretty sweet. M said after that that maybe she could have a kid. [Page 217-8, Sun. 3 July 2011]

It felt really good to be going home to apartment. In my tired state, I’m starting to feel I don’t have a home, that homesick feeling of not belonging anywhere. Woke up overnight not sure where I was for a moment. I’ll probably feel that a few more times in coming days. It’s the end of an era of sleeping here, in this hot, dusty, crowded apartment, but it has been home for quite a while. I’m glad our new place is nice — makes it easier to go than if we were moving to a worse place. [Page 111, Sat. 18 June 2011]

As a teen, I found each book was, in a way, a door to a room I hadn’t known existed –– for instance, I liked Maynard Ferguson’s covers — “Chameleon,” MF Horn 1 & 2 — but I didn’t know the original versions. I didn’t know the influences, tradition, or history. And now that I see this, not all of history but the pattern of influences and contexts, now I’m less likely to experience any new thing (music, building, book) as entirely new. … So I probably won’t have that sense of wonder, of the possibility of finding a new realm in a magazine, that I had as teen. But I don’t feel inferior to others or their writings now. [Page 89, Thurs. 16 June 2011]

Why’d my dad leave the security and relative prestige of the bank — where people came to ask him for money–and go to sales, where he had to sell to some of these same people? I’d never thought of that, but, no doubt, some clients may have enjoyed that turn of tables. They used to ask him for money; now he was asking them. [Page 61, Mon. 13 June 2011]

They — my cousin’s kids — have to come to terms with that, have to figure out why their dad did what he did so that their own lives had to change so greatly. Shit, I’m still trying to figure my old man out–the divorce, but also his character. Maybe it’s all funneled thru the divorce question: what made him the way he was so that he would do what he did? Or maybe it’s sappy to think it’s only the divorce I see as the frame. It’s everything: his jobs, his depression, his basic unknowability.  [Page 164, Sun. 26 June 2011]

I was over at the house, packing canned food into bags and wiping the brown rings of what seemed to be–by deduction–sauerkraut juice from a can that had a pestilential-looking greenish bubbly rupture — botulism? Some nasty thing that indicates it wasn’t processed properly. [Page 164, Sun. 26 June 2011]

Sometimes I like to write down the words I hear, and I’m fascinated by the transition from vocalization to marks on page. But today, that doesn’t necessarily seem to fascinate me. That’s OK, too. I mean, sometimes, I think that these expressions of my soul–these writing sessions–have a a certain value in themselves, a scream from the void, as it were–a sign I existed. I’m not sure that that matters, either, really. After all, only other people can make sense of these things (and that’s only if they can figure out my handwriting), and each person’s interpretation of this text might vary, anyway. [Page 32, Thurs. 9 June 2011]

You don’t think of others as dumb just because they haven’t thought of the things you’ve thought of. Anybody over 30 — well, most people over 30 — are fairly competent. So you can think of yourself at 30 as competent, too — not lacking or callow, as you tend to think. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

I found this note [see note contents in paragraph below] someplace while cleaning and moving. I’m not sure the date of this note … I’d guess last 4-5 years. But somehow it seems neat to find ideas I had written down before. These ideas don’t seem so special at the time I write them — they’re simply “what I’m thinking now.” But then, later, they seem interesting. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

What do you take seriously? My daily journals. Life is serious, naturally, but also joyful, playful. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

‘Each thought is a new mind’: Here and there in Journal 299

I liked the rain sound there was when the window behind me was open but it was getting windy. There was moisture on the sill, in the channel, and so I closed it and now there’s sound but it’s duller, muted.  [Page 174-5, chosen at random using a random-number generator. Part of Sunday, 7 April 2019 journal]

Facts (as in public records) and journals transcend the styles or fashions of an era, and so are timeless, and are informative that way in telling of shared experience, understanding. Artworks produced for others are made to fit the style of the times, whereas Thoreau’s and others’ journals are not public and so are timeless, closer to lived experience — what’s likely to be common consciousness across the years. [Page 143, Fri. 5 April]

People who see the world as narrow, closed off, versus those who see world as opened, undefined — this may be partly why I wasn’t an engineer. Not all, but many I met that first year of college seemed to care only about getting a high-paying job, and I, well, didn’t. I’m not sure I can say what I cared about, but it wasn’t a high-paying, high-status job. I guess I don’t care enough about joining the establishment (the bureaucracy, etc.) to be too bothered about this whole admissions/”elite” university scandal.  [Page 11, Tues. 19 March]

It’s hard (or impossible?) to write a nonfiction description unselfconsciously, without being aware of the oddness, the artificiality, of writing words to describe a real event. To write words, you have to have a different perspective from one who’s just experiencing and writing later from memory, as when the cat sat on my lap yesterday and I wrote about it at same (or seconds after) time. [Page 196, Thurs. 11 April 2019]

There’s a lot of becoming, not as much being, in these journals. Context of ideas matters — in fact, perhaps it’s context that, indirectly, gives rise to ideas or mental states — the context of my mind being open as I walk dog or drive or even when I walk hallway at school, even when I’m on a journey to do something, on a mission, I still look at hall-walls and if I expected to have my thoughts disrupted, my mind opened, every time I looked at that Exquisite Corpse quote-covered billboard, it probably wouldn’t happen. With respect to the “becoming” and “not being” statement above, I was (I think) referring to my journal writings reflecting not a state of literary perfection but these journals as revealing the thought-process of, well, perhaps of creating (brainstorming, mind-dumping) and the process of, well, the process of being conscious? The process of processing? [Page 159-160, Sat. 6 April]

Part of the Exquisite Corpse display in the hallway outside my high school classroom. 28 May 2019

Back after a pee. On my way to pee, I leaned over sofa back and petted kitty and called him a “squirrel-faced rat” and then I mentioned the “rats and super-rats,” and I said Justice Cat was a “super-rat” for messing with Holly Golightly’s feelings. That story presents a world that can be fun to inhabit, for a while. [Page 110, Sun. 31 March]

I saw, through the swinging kitchen door at our diner, big pots hanging from the ceiling. These reminded me that this is a business that is in operation — that if the business closed, all these particular tools would be gone — we’d have to imagine them. So much of what the diner work is is stocking and restocking things — the jellies, syrups, ketchup, silverware rolled inside napkins, etc. If I weren’t so stupid-tired, I could probably clarify this, make some clear point about how I was looking at those pots and thinking how much work there would be in imagining all those old shops and businesses and restaurants in long-gone eras of these small towns. [Page 61, Tues. 26 March]

I had some thoughts during testing yesterday and wrote them on pocket pages. I’d long thought of testing days — my proctoring, when I’m mostly prevented from doing any work — as mindful, but I also have to pay some attention to the students and also to the clock, so it’s not really as mindful a situation as I’d thought. A couple times I’d prepared within 30 or 40 seconds before the five-minute mark on the countdown (we used an online stopwatch and projected the countdown onto the board) to give the “You have five minutes remaining on this section” announcement and then forgotten to do it when the timer got closer. My colleague in the room was the “room monitor” and I was technically “the proctor,” and she did the announcement once and she reminded me a couple other times. I’d feel this was a sign of bad (or worsening) memory, except that I don’t think that’s what was happening. I think this was one of those situations where I’m a new mind at each moment of consciousness — that I awake with a new mind, and that new mind doesn’t include the old minds’ thought/intent. And by “awake,” what I mean is that each crystallization of a new thought is a new mind, is a new moment of consciousness — each thought is a new mind, rather than a mind having/hosting/birthing a thought.  [Page 189-190, Weds. 10 April]

[Editing process for the text above: Generating a random number, turning to that page in the journal notebook, reading that page for an interesting idea, and typing it in above. The theory prompting this method is that each sentence, each  idea, is a moment of consciousness, and maybe each moment, each idea, is equally important, so randomly directed selection would give a grouping of texts not bound by topic or by my favoritism. I want to create texts that are samplers rather than thematic statements.]


‘Don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it!’: April notes from pocket pages

“Paid actor endorsements for products. Individuals in the spot are fictitious.” Photo’d from TV 20 April.


What am I supposed to believe about/from a piece of fiction? [1 April 2019]


Most businesses are, or potentially are, so ephemeral. Even big companies need to keep making sufficient money consistently to survive. It’s remarkable that banks are willing to lend to these ephemeral entities. But banks lend to people, too, and surely people are ephemeral. A business must be tended more-or-less every day, like pets, to stay alive. [4 April]


In creating a text, writers are offering a reading experience to others. What would be the full range of reading experiences? [4 April]


Cat on chest, dog in hand. 2 April.


The moment of me looking at the textured black plastic of my open car door this morning, a glimpse that I had, a moment of being conscious and seeing some real object — and it’s not that I want so share this experience — or do I? Maybe I just want to record this conscious experience, this experience of an familiar object. [5 April.] Or: what is obvious here and now (at present) is merely an idea through writing. [6 April. ]


That disconnect of seeing and reading about local buildings in a book yesterday, and then I could go see the buildings today — I had some of this feeling about Monroeville, too. There’s an excitement in (or created by?) the reading? The dissonance in “here IS what I read, imagined.” [5 April]


Bored dog waiting for me to write outside the local library. 7 April.

6:25 p.m., at the same benches on the east side of my local library where dog and I were a couple-three (or four?) weeks ago. Here I am. I did moments ago remember a thought that came during this morning’s journals but which I don’t think I wrote: that reading, in its ability to pull attention (and thus, minds) away from the here-and-now is kinda magical — or at least it’s a kind of power that reading (or words, basically) has (have). Maybe this goes to the core of abstraction or thinking or imagining — that is, having a mind helps people learn from past experiences and prepare for future ones, and so thinking can be used to help us, but being too immersed in thinking (in mediated experiences) isn’t necessarily good. Thinking is a tool capable of being used or abused, or both. Well, it’s a lot milder than my last time sitting here while the dog wanted to keep going. And, well, I am at this spot again as I write. I’m at a place on the earth that’s not my dining room table (where most of my journals get written, even if I don’t state that fact every day). I suppose readers would have to take my word that I’m here. I could describe the bird song and traffic noise and the leaves rattling as they slide on pock-marked concrete. [7 April]


If there’s no overall theme (organizing idea) in a publication, then one’s attention is on the publication itself — a magazine or the Today show or my blog (who’s only organizing principle is me). [8 April]


The library’s tree. 7 April


Where my attention settles as I drive. I look from place to place, I notice various things — yet I still attend to driving. This process of what I notice seems somewhat opaque to me.  [8, 21 April]


George R.R. Martin’s fans don’t care about him except for his writing of novels. I think I’d like to have readers who would care about me as a person, and not just as a supplier of story-product. [8, 21 April]


Spiders write poems at local video store. 7 April


A property — not land itself, but a piece of land as a property — is just an idea, and a deed is just an idea — but so too is history just an idea. These suit each other. History is made from ideas, not from land or other objects themselves. [9, 21 April]


I wrote a while (years) ago that I’d want to get a Ph.D. in now — not in the idea of now, just in now. But this has got to be metaphorical — Ph.D.s aren’t given for being. There’s nothing, really, to report — or is there? There’s no need to report from awareness. And there’s freedom from ideas in the present moment. (Like the Emerson quote about out not needing to bring rags into the new hour — but quoting Emerson does precisely what he says not to do, of course). [9 April]


I knew I was close to school but it was hard to know how close when fog blocks landmarks. 8 April


Writings are at best a way to instruct myself (or others) at other times to be mindful — or IS there a way to read mindfully? [9 April]


Perhaps it’s my decision to judge my own situation at a particular time as being as happy as a story? My cat’s partly on my lap, partly on the table. His head’s ahead of me. It can be that. I just eat my cashews and raisins and I pet cat’s head and choose to do nothing more. But don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it! The cat shares his consciousness (he yawns and snaps jaws shut, then does left-ear grooming) with me. And now he’s down. I was (and am again) reading on my phone a New Yorker piece about Nelson Algren — mere ideas. [10 April]


My arguments today with a student about the merits of To Kill a Mockingbird. I’d like to be seen not just as someone who has thought-out views or a strong point of view, but as someone who’s analytical method/approach can be followed. I don’t want to scare students off — I’d like (hope) they find something in my model worth following or trying themselves. Of course, I may never know if I’m a model for anyone else — I don’t know that I told my mentors that they were models to me. Maybe I did tell a couple of them — yet, what is it worth to tell them this? [10 April]


Inches of April snow. 15 April


What I write (even journals), others can probably read. If I can write it, others can read it. Even if I wrote in a code, it’d be decipherable. I mean, I’d really have to work hard to write in a way that wasn’t readable. (This in light of my mom’s point that diarists wouldn’t write if they didn’t want their words read.) [10 April]


My wife said that the reason why romance stories often have love in extreme circumstances (between two unlikely lovers, say) is to convey a sense to readers of how their own love-story seemed unusual and unlikely — though of course it can’t be all that unusual, since people in real life fall in love quite often. [10 April]


My wife said that when neighborhood kids gathered in our backyard one day last week, they all watched our dog turn away from them and poop. One kid said, “It’s really big!” about the dog’s butthole-dilation or the turd circumference or both. [11 April]


Nonfiction is creative, I told my writing students, in that the writer chooses what to write and how to write it. [11 April]


My work gets done just by me going to work everyday. I don’t gotta obsess over getting done. [11 April]


Half my face and a wall of deed books at the county recorder’s office. 17 April


Lot lines create properties AND places — a field or pasture isn’t a spot until there’s something to mark it. [11 April]


This afternoon I wondered if I had anything more I wanted to write before the calendar day was over — like meeting a paperwork deadline. But I don’t usually think that way — dates on each note are more like “New Message” signs than time capsules (though maybe they’re both). [11 April]


What’s the large number of times I’ve unbuttoned and unzipped my pants (to dress, to pee, etc.) — a few times a day for thousands of days! After calculating, I realize I’ve been alive almost 16,500 days! And if I unbutton 5 times a day, that’s over 82,000 unbuttonings. Of course, some of those days I wore shorts. [12 April]


Reading Rochelle City Council minutes from 1874 for a research project I’m doing with some of my high school writing students, I thought about how detailed these are, how they don’t tell a great narrative but in their particularity of dollar amounts and votes and actions taken, they seem to make their time seem not all that distant — at least, as compared to how distant seem the 1870s settings described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House books. But then, she was writing about the 1870s decades later, and writing through her memory and nostalgia made those times seem distant. But the 1870s were modern for some people — and it was not really so different being then from being alive now. A person’s basic consciousness surely hasn’t changed that much. But there are several popular autobiographical fictions — including those of Nelle Harper Lee  and Jack Kerouac — that were written years or decades after the events described therein. I’m suggesting a distinction between writings done soon after the events occurred (like city council and other official records, but also journal-writings) and those stories written years later — that maybe there’s something about telling stories years later that makes them easier to tell, that the writer’s mind has a chance to shape the story just through remembering and retelling the events — and this years-later writing perhaps lays a sense of clarity of meaning over events that soon-after writing doesn’t have. However, these told-years-later stories take on a sense of the mythic, the better-than-real-life, while soon-after writing feels more authentic to how life is lived. I feel like it’s taken me years to stop trying to find that mythic-story sense in my daily-lived life. [16, 18, 21 April]


I’m not special to my journals. I’m necessential (necessary and essential), for without me, there’d be no journals getting written. But there’s a difference in being special to one’s family and seeming special to one’s fans. My family needs me for financial and emotional support in a way that my fans (should they exist) never will. In their need, my family and friends appreciate me, but don’t see my mind as quasi-magical (an attitude I may have adopted towards certain artists I’ve admired). My consciousness, my experience, aren’t special to others — except that others can read about these. People who don’t write their experiences remain unspecial because they remain unknown. [17 April]


As I grew up, I first became conscious, and then as I developed my consciousness (through experience, education, etc.), I became aware of others and of the world. I formed models of and opinions of others and of things in the world. In later years, my development seems to have been in becoming more conscious of my own consciousness, of my own ways of thinking. I think this is where I can still learn: questioning why and how I have the models and opinions that I have [17 April]


Forsythia blooms, 19 April.

First buyers of Rochelle-area land

Here are the names of the patent holders for the lands that eventually became the town of Lane, and later, the city of Rochelle. Patents were granted to those who first bought the land from the U.S. government, and here their names are placed on the 1840-41 township survey .

Information on patents came from Bureau of Land Management General Land office records (links for Section 23Section 24, and Section 25 patents) and Illinois Public Domain Land Tract Sales Database (link here).

Click on maps to enlarge.

Modern-day landmarks (using Ogle Co. GIS) for comparison:

Map compiled from 1840-41 survey, 1853 Lane plat, 1872 Krause map, and GIS property ID number data (the third part of the ID numbers indicate which quarter-section and which quarter-quarter section a parcel lies within).


• The higher ground seems to have sold earlier, and to have been improved (with fields) earlier than the low-lying ground. This isn’t surprising, but it helps explain why Rochelle was settled where it was and not a few hundred yards west or east or south.

• Sheldon Bartholomew died 9 Dec. 1846, according to the 1878 History of Ogle, page 507, just two months after applying for the land patent on two of his parcels listed above. He was the second one buried in the cemetery he had established, located just southwest of the intersection of 7th Street and 8th Avenue. The 1878 history says Sheldon was the second person in this “burying grounds,” as it was called in an 1856 deed. It would seem that the Bartholomew family dedicated property at the far north edge of their property, and that this burying grounds also lay next to the Ottawa-Rockford road. These grounds also occupy land that is elevated a few feet above other parts of the town.

• Sheldon’s wife, Charlotte, remarried to “Mat” Powell and, as Charlotte Powell, she sold to R.P. Lane most of the land that would become platted as Lane, and later, Rochelle.

• But the plat of Lane extended into land originally owned by William Fulton. I would need to do more research to see if Lane owned that Northwest Quarter of the Southeast Quarter when the plat was filed 30 July 1853.

• In making this map, I was surprised to see that all of Lane south of about 4th Avenue had been part of the grove of hickory trees. I suspect that those trees were cut down and removed by the time the town of Lane and the G & CU railroads were constructed, in 1853.

Having new ideas is fun

It’s possible to leave behind one’s old ideas and have new ones, see the world anew, and it’s fun to do this!

This is the message I have to share with the world: It’s fun to create! It’s deeply satisfying! It shows the world to you in new ways — it reveals new aspects of the world. It shows that there’s more to the world than we know. It has shown me that ideas are not the truth — ideas I thought were real I now see as arbitrary. A lot of my new worldview has come from creative experiences.

It’s a wonderfully simple message! But it’s one that was a long time in coming to me, perhaps because so much of our culture is now provided by and accessed through commercial means — bookstores, art galleries, TV, movies, magazines — all these commercial forums — and we see art as having the purposes of getting us fame and money (or career).

Maybe my message, what I model to the world, is that I like my life even without getting published! I’m not perfect, not the only model to follow, but my way of living — which includes the daily creative act of freewriting my journals — is pretty fun and interesting and worth trying.

I don’t want to define myself as someone who writes about only a certain topic, or who writes in a habitual style or tone. I want to share my work style, my process, and then go on to create my own particular things. I want to demonstrate creativity in its least-restrictive form, which is that I’m not trying to make any product to sell. If you, as an artist, decide that you’re gonna make something for someone else, you’re already limiting your creativity — you’re abstracting whom your audience is from your limited experiences with other people, with the result that you’re condescending to others, assuming to know what others want or need. And then there’s the problem of there not being really all that many ideas within the range of tellable stories — whereas in my writing, I go well beyond stories. I may be limited by words, by thinkable thoughts — not all experiences can be easily described — but I can look at words as merely a medium, as the tools I use to have the creative experiences I enjoy.

The types of texts that get published — novels, nonfiction reports, celebrity interviews — are so narrow compared to all the types of texts there are, including diaries, conversations between non-famous people, descriptions of regular life, real places. There’s the bias toward the spectacular that seems to leave regular lived life in real places largely unexplored.

Kerouac’s On the Road is a book that captivated me when I read it at age 19 — I think I understood it as instructive, that I could perhaps view my life as he viewed his. But now I see that book was the telling not about Kerouac’s regular life but about his vacations, essentially — he wrote his scroll as a story told to impress and/or amuse others. What remains is the challenge of how to live daily life in a rewarding way.

So what interests me now is escaping narrow definitions of what life is or could or should be and instead dipping my toes into the unknown, into what’s beyond the definitions. I want to have my own ideas, do my own thinking, and if I never feel like advocating my ideas to others, that’s fine — maybe I can advocate my process!

Everything I publish might be read as an exuberance — defined in Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate 11th as, in part, “joyously unrestrained and enthusiastic,” “plentiful.” I’d never thought of myself as exuberant before — maybe this is just a positive spin on the “intense” adjective others have used to describe me.

Over time, I do come to new ideas that seem to solve my problems, increase my understanding.

And when I publish, I don’t need to have everything nailed down and tidy. I don’t have to fret whether I seem a respectable, authoritative-type voice. I don’t need to post — my experience is already had; I’ve already had the joy and satisfaction of the earlier journal-writing session! So publish whatever! I don’t need to publish — there’s some good freedom. And once I’ve realized that, it gets easier to publish!