Category Archives: Uncategorized

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]

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]

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]

1986 vacation

Trip Down

Started at 11:00 6/7 from Ashton. Saw convoy of Army/camo vehicles. At 1:30 had a flat front left tire about 5 miles or less away from El Paso [Illinois]. Stopped down at 2 gas stations to get new tire. We got our tire at J.M.K. Tire & Wheel in Bloomington. We also had lunch at J.M.K. Tire & Wheel. Next we went to the Miller Park Zoo. 35 cents for us and 75 cents for parents. First tigers, mountain lions, snow leopard, Indian lions, which live 15–30 years. 13–15 years snow leopards live. Lemur, fox snake, tarantula, iguana. We saw spotted turtle, hognose snake, spiny mouse, screech owl, sparrow hawk, jaguar, siren[?] monitor, alligator, boa, snapping turtle, painted turtle, softshell turtle, king snake, ferret, piranhas, birds, sea lions, otters, raccoons, red fox, donkeys.

Then, we drove again, this time to a park north of Kewanee, the Johnson-Sauk Trail State Park. We decided to stay. First we registered. Then we went to site #48. We had supper at 8:00 and went to bed. It also sprinkled. We woke around 6:00. I had slept on the cushions next to the window in the camper. When we got up, we dressed and had some toast. Then we went fishing.

Our whole family went, and Nace used his new pole and a white popper to catch 5 bluegill, the largest 7 inches and the smallest 6 1/4 inches. Dan hauled a snake ashore while Mom read Deerslayer. For breakfast we had Tang[?], eggs, sausage, toast. Mom and Dad made it while I cleaned up the camp and Nace and Dan cleaned fish. 

Our stay at this park was part of Plan B. We were going to go to Kentucky and the Smokies, but burning oil and a blown front tire cancelled those plans. Instead. Plan B says that we stay one night in a state park and then go to Door County, Wisconsin, in our Suburban. I guess we’ll see if that plan turns out. 

After eating breakfast about 10:00, we packed back up. We then left camp and headed north, toward Morrison. At eleven we stopped and got 17.4 gallons of gas at a Conoco gas station in Prophetstown. Starting back at camp, I had been riding in front with Dad. At 12:00, we came to Morrison Rockwood State Park and Carlton Lake. We stopped near a bait shop and bought 1 dozen worms for $1.10. We then drove around the park looking at campsites. Mom and Dad liked #37. Next we settled down in a parking lot near a bay. Nace caught 2, 1 bass and a bluegill, and Dan got 2 bluegill. Dad and I only got bites.

Around 2:00 we stowed the fishing gear in the truck and went into Morrison to get an ice cream cone. We first went to a One Stop Store to get our cones, but their machine was busted. We then went down to a drive in-type place where we each had a medium-sized chocolate-and-vanilla-mixed ice-cream cone, except Dad, who had a medium chocolate cone. 

When we got back into the truck and started it, Dad and I drove just to the other side of the lot and bought a block of ice from a gas station. Then we were on our way back to Morrison Rockwood State Park. We drove back to the park to choose a campsite. We drove slowly and discovered #34. A little later a ranger signed us in. It was about 3:30.

From about 4:00 to 5:00, Dad and I rested and napped while Mom read and my brothers played around. After our nap, we had supper. Tacos, fruit salad, and Kool-Aid were on the menu. Then when we were doing dishes, chopping wood, and recovering from supper, we heard a sound like a truck was stuck. We heard it several times, and until we saw that it was a rainbow colored hot air balloon, we had no recollection of what it could be. 

After cleaning up, we headed down to the Lake Carlton. We got 2 dozen crawlers and a bunch of minnows. We started fishing on a dock for crappie. Two nice men over a little farther down on the dock caught some and gave them to us. Though we caught some. I had 2, Nace had 2, Dan and Dad each had 1. Mom ran the stringer while Dan ran the fish from the man [men?] to Mom. One of the men had blondish hair while the other was older and had black hair and glasses. Our family packed the truck with our gear and headed back to camp to clean fish. I used Nace’s yellow knife and scaled 3-4 fish.

After getting the fish smell away from our hands, we built the fire and had s’mores. We each had two. I tried to darken my marshmallow to a golden brown.  After that we got ready to go to bed and we got to bed about 10:00, June 8, 1986. 

6/9

This morning we awoke around 7:00. Again, I slept on the cushions around the table. We got dressed and had some cocoa. Around 7:15 we left our campsite to go fishing. Our family got down to Lake Carlton and we got minnows. After just a little fishing, the man with the blond hair named “Red” arrive[d] and caught fish which he gave to us. “Andy,” the other man, also came, but later. Nace caught a crappie and a bass. Dad caught a bass. We couldn’t have had many at all if Red hadn’t given them to us. Red and his friend caught crappie on little lead-head jigs with yellow, white, or orange color. I tried my beetle spinner like that but had no results. Before we left, I took the minnows back to the shop to take but he didn’t. Later we packed the fish and went back to camp to clean fish. Dad, Nace, and I cleaned fish while Dan stacked them up in a pile. When a fish would fall off the pile, Dan would patiently pick it up and set it back of the stack. 

About 10:00, we had breakfast. Friend bluegill and crappie went with toast and orange juice. Dad burnt some toast. After that I made toast. I got them nice and crisp, but not burnt. Following breakfast, clean up and messing around were activities performed. I rolled sleeping bags and straightened up the camper while my brother[s?] tortured baitfish. About 11:30 we finished packing and got on the road again, but before that, Dad threw the garbage in a container the ranger set out. Then we left camp. We drove on the toll road till [sic] we hit the next town, Dixon. When then drove through and out of Dixon around 12:20.

Next we rode through Franklin Grove, on our way to Ashton and Dad’s house. Maybe 5 minutes out of Franklin Grove when we reached Dad’s house. Following the stop at Dad’s, we took off to our house. We arrived around 1:30. Right away we started to clean out the Suburban, which we were to take up to Washington Island. Dad came up around 3:00 and helped us repack. Later, after repacking, we left about 5:30. I was riding next to the window in the short seat. 

We drove up to Rockford and got some gas [at] station by the airport. Dad bought us some cones there, which he made himself. After that we got on the toll road and paid the toll. The road went through Rockford. From there we drove along highways through Elkhorn and Eagle. Eagle is neat because the whole town looks older, especially the motel. Going out of town, we took the Kettle Moraine Scenic Route. Kettles are potholes formed by glaciers and a moraine is a hill with rock in it dropped by the glacier. Out of town, we came up upon the Ottawa Lake Recreation Center. We decided to camp here for the night. The campsite is #81. After arriving[?], my brothers and I set up Nace’s tent while Mom and Dad worked to set up Dad’s tent. After we got Nace’s tent up, us [sic] boys explored around in the trails. We discovered an entrance to the lake. Then we went back to camp. Right away we went back out to collect firewood, but we didn’t get much of anything. By then Mom and Dad had gotten the tent up. Mom took us for a short walk next to the woods. Then we came back to camp, but then left for the building which has restrooms, sinks, and showers, where Dad got water. We went back to camp and started the stove. Mom made ham sandwiches while Dad made cocoa. We had cookies after that. I cleaned out a space in the back of the Suburban, where I slept. Mom and Dad slept in Dad’s tent, with their blankets zipped together because the wind was blowing very cold and fast. It might have been 20–30 mph. 

We all awoke around 6:30, 6/10. Right away I helped the boys put away their tent because it was sprinkling. By the time we left it was raining. Anyway, we had cereal about 7:00. Mom made Banana Nut Bread in the shape of a pancake. We started packing the truck up and taking down Dad’s tent, and we left Kettle Moraine State Park. Ottawa Lake is one part of it. We left the park at 8:00 with it cloudy and raining. Dad was driving, Mom was in the front seat, Nace and I were in the second seat, and little Danny in the back. Around 9:30 in a Standard station in Mayville we got gas and Mom started driving with Dad next to her. We drove on Highway[s] 67 and 41 and didn’t run into any rain until we came into Fon[d] du Lac. We saw just a little part of Lake Winnebago around 10:00. Rain still came down when we went through many towns, including Algoma, Kewanee, and Manitowoc, Two Rivers, Alaska, and Pipe, all along Lake Michigan. We stopped at 2 rest stops, one in Manitowoc, the other outside Algoma. Mom and Dan [or Dad?] looked at a motel, but they didn’t like it. From there we went to the Riverside Restaurant and Drive-in for lunch. I had a Deluxe Burger with tomato, lettuce, and onion and a Dr. Pepper. We left there at 2:00. Dad got a paper on the way out.

At 2:30, we drove into Potawatomi State Park. We drove through the campsites to choose one. I liked either #42 or #48. Both were next to a cliff with rocks and were in the woods. We ended up with #42. We drove out and set up our tents. I climbed up the cliffs to the top. The climb is about 30 feet or more. Dad chopped two logs of pine. We went from there to the boat launch that goes into Sturgeon Bay. I picked up a couple of rocks, but lost them. We went back on the road and went partway up a tower. Mom stopped 2/3 of the way up because you couldn’t see much. We went to Sturgeon Bay. Roy’s Red Owl is a grocery where we bought our food. We went back to camp and had pork and beans, hot dogs, and soup. For dessert we ate s’mores.

I slept with Mom and Dad in their tent. In the night, one time it rained very hard, and another time it thundered and lightninged. We woke around 7:00 and had eggs, toast, and bacon for breakfast. Dad built a fire, but it was hard. After breakfast when Mom was doing dishes, Chipy the Chipmunk ran around rocks near our campsite. He ate from an apple core on the rocks. We let camp at 12:00. We went down to Sturgeon Lake to let Nace and Dan fish while Dad and I played catch. At 12:15, we left and got on the road home. We only stopped twice, one [stop] for gas in Appleton and one in a waystation outside Kickapoo [this location name might be incorrect]. We traveled on Highway #26 most of the way. At the waystation we had lunch. We hit a toll north of Rockford. Also, at the waystation, Mom and Dad changed positions. Mom drove the rest of the way home. We reached Stillman at 6:45, thus ending our 1986 vacation.

As a conclusion, we saw a rainbow when driving on North Cox Road. 

[From a pocket notebook entitled “’86 + ’89 Vacation Tactical Navigator Log.” I turned 12 in 1986.]

We’re all kinda like nesting dolls. 

Just another day, really, in this stretch of 90° [F] days (one week down, one more to go). 

J327pg71

New life comes from crotches. OK, I don’t think that’s universally valid. But my thought about humans (and other placental mammals) is that new life comes from the inside of existing bodies — we don’t sprout children off our fingers. We’re all kinda like nesting dolls. 

9:36 a.m. phone time. I had cereal and am sleepy already. I learned last night that Rob & Laura Petrie married in or soon after the war, and she was only 17! 2 DVD show episodes were on CBS last night, in honor of Carl Reiner’s death this week, I saw somewhere. 

Ah, f*** — my body felt stiff this morning. I’ve still got chafing. I didn’t feel like doing anything active yesterday. I read online and watched Youtubes while dog shivered on our bed (because of occasional firesworks). And I don’t know if I need to change something or what. I don’t feel depressed exactly, but maybe it’s a different kind of depression. A few minutes ago, as I colored above, I thought for some reason about going to Rhinelander, Wisc. I’m not sure why that place came [to mind]. 

I read at the DVD show page that Rob’s (I think it was his) mother didn’t like that Rob & Laura got married without telling their families. And so I looked up Carl Reiner — I hadn’t realized he’d been the creator of DVD show and that he’d based the Rob character on himself — and I see he married his wife, Estelle, in 1943. Carl’s wiki page says he was drafted in 1942 at about age 20. I was watching a History Channel thing (“WW2 in H.D.”) this morn and it said there was a draft before Pearl Harbor (I’m not sure exactly when it started) but it was for 21–30-year-olds. and yesterday I heard (on some Youtube vid?) that the average age of U.S. solders in WW2 was 26 — but U.S. soldiers in Vietnam were 19.

I just (at 10:09 a.m.) pulled a beetle out of my t-shirt, from between neck and left shoulder. I’ve already been out to catch falling beetles from birch tree. I went off deck so dog would go into grass and pee. He’d wanted out to deck but hadn’t left deck and wanted back in. I went out because I thought he might pee. 

[From journal of Sat., 4 July 2020, J327, page 71]

M said, why don’t you admit it hurts?

7:56 A.M., Mountain Daylight Time — Well, here I am. Walked around the ring road through this corporate office park. I say “corporate” because these aren’t factories, but mostly these are small buildings. Only DirecTV is really big. And I had to pee really bad the whole time, well, almost the whole time. But I held it in. Walking downhill was worse than flat or uphill. And anyway here I am.

I’ve read the papers this week, but very little TV or NPR and no online news. It’s been pleasant that way. At least newspaper isn’t screaming at me. But these papers are better than the [Chicago Tribune] — the Rocky Mountain News and Denver Post are both better papers than the Trib, more news, but also just more character, more personality in the features. And we went to Boulder yesterday and I bought a NYTimes on the Pearl Street Mall just because I could — because here it was, and I can’t normally buy it. So yeah, after MPs [morning page journals] yesterday, we picked up M’s dad at Marnie’s. M had cereal for breakfast; I had TicTacs [10/23/08: didn’t I also have an energy bar from Shell station?] and then got her mom at the nail store — her mom had swollen gum troubles. And M drove up to Boulder (by the way, I’m here at my table on the ground floor, looking out at the wedding tent and the concrete walk and the pond and golf course — and a staffer was outside a few minutes ago wearing a plastic glove on his left hand, taking cigarette butts out of the black sandy tray at top of garbage cannister and throwing the butts into the garbage can beneath. I didn’t know that was a job to be done, but I guess it does make it look nicer.).

So, yeah, I’ve been saying how Denver has an outdoor culture while Midwest doesn’t as much — also Chicago isn’t really as tourist-friendly. The IPass [“eye-pass”]: Having to stop to pay cash tolls is so tedious, it’s as though the state hates outsiders, or there are simply so few it doesn’t matter, but either way, it’s not a welcoming system for tourists. While out here in Denver, we drive all around the city and pay no tolls. We saw signs about the HOV lanes — high occupancy vehicle? — and how you could pay a toll there, but it was free if you had two or more people in car. Chicago doesn’t reward carpooling at all.

Anyway, M drove to Boulder. We went downtown. [Her dad] shouted to a biker, how do we get downtown? Take a left on Arapahoe (was it?), then 9th Street to downtown. M said if I gave directions, it’d be too much information (T.M.I., the saying goes). And I found my Clairefontaines — my only real quest of the trip — at Boulder Books, a neat store I didn’t have much time to explore because I was looking at various notebooks, but that’s OK. We were on Pearl Street, where [my friend D.] said he had been, but hadn’t had a good feeling at, a few weeks ago. To think that my friend lived there — anyway, lunch at Walnut Brewery, tasted their beer sampler while [M’s mom] started to cry while maintaining her tooth didn’t hurt. M said, why don’t you admit it hurts?

[From journal of Fri., 8 August 2008, Journal 103, page 353-5]

It’s juvenile to have the attitude that you have to overturn everything, push everything to see if it tips over.

It’s juvenile to have the attitude that you have to overturn everything, push everything to see if it tips over. Maybe that’s a necessary developmental step for teens and young adults, that “change the world” stage of life. One wants to know what are the reasons for the way things in the world are, and, yes, some of the reasons are arbitrary, not rational or purposeful, but traditional and/or arbitrary (say, school structure). But that’s how the world is, that’s how we find it, and frankly, why rail against these small things — say, silly laws, teacher licensing, etc.? Just go along with little stuff so you can pursue the bigger, higher-priority, stuff: being happy, raising kids, having good relationships, etc. I guess those are bigger things , although, I guess, I mean — when you have a good marriage, that seems so much more real, more important, than school regulations.

The world pales in comparison to those intimate moments with your spouse (or child, or friends, etc.). The simple pleasures, as they say. The lullaby “Baby of Mine” (from Dumbo movie?) comes to my mind, its image of mother-baby bonding. These little pleasures of being human, of being alive. These things that we don’t talk about much — it’s hard to talk about them, because they aren’t words. The joy of cuddling with M — it’s not an ecstatic joy. It’s just, well, nice. It’s something that has to be experienced. There are organizations promoting all manner of changing the world, but there are no groups promoting cuddling one’s spouse, frequent hugs, loving your kids, playing with your dog. These common pleasures — for me, writing in my journal — this, too, is not radically new to the world. All these things I’m describing — there’s no game so no winner, there’s no fame or money involved. It’s simply the pleasure of being alive, of not being alone. Why don’t we talk more about these things? Why is so much of our media talk about policies and issues and material wealth and so forth, all these abstractions, all these externals. We tend to downplay these joys that everyone (well, almost everyone — not those in comas, say) can experience, the things we’re already capable of. We don’t need to lose weight or make money or work hard to hug our spouses or play with the dogs.

And, look at you here, wanting to change the world to be more this way — let that go, too! I’m mature enough to recognize when I’m going down that “change the world” mindset — hey, there’s no reason to change the world! I mean, why resort to abstractions? You don’t need to prove the value or joys of cuddling — that’s the point of cuddling! These things you haven’t experienced as a 20-year-old, and as a 20-year-old, you believe those abstractions are important somehow.

(I looked up Lara Logan on Google yesterday, the CBS Iraq correspondent. Howard Kurtz, Washington Post media guy, said she had plenty of ambition. But she’s been living in and reporting from war zones for more than 5 years now — she’s 37 or so, I read — so much ambition. At times that seems exciting, to have this career path, be nationally known. But at other times, her life seems terrible to me — how can she live in a war zone and not have that affect her — stress levels, nightmares? Perhaps she’s one of those who burn bright and burn out, Roman candles, as the comparison goes. As Kelly ___ from Daily Illini, who reports from Middle East and Chechnya — a true believer, of sorts — a committed person).

See, it’s funny that I would say I want to change the world. The whole point is that these joys are, well, they don’t need promotion. They’re self-explanatory (sex is nice, even when our media takes it and perverts it, turns it into a game of f*cki*g attractive people, of “scoring” — not just the media, some people [do this too]).

The whole point is, I had to mature to the point where I could realize that I’m — that I’m alive, in this body. And all kinds of people have all kinds of ideas and goals and needs and views and — f*c*, this is more awkward than it needs to be.

When I was younger, in my early 20s, I thought that what reality was, was abstractions: living a unique life, being creative, changing the economic or cultural shape of the world. And as I get more mature, I can see those things don’t matter so much as I said they did, as I used to think they did. At age 20, I wanted to be Unique, Important, etc. At age 30, 34, I want cuddling. Well, see, it seems silly to even write it. Cuddling just is. It doesn’t need promotion. So many of the joys of life are so common as to be nearly universal. And yet we don’t talk about them. (I guess I’m saying these things should be talked about because then, as a 20-year old, I wouldn’t have been deceived — and yet, maybe this is something I had to learn on my own).

I can’t even write about this. It seems dumb and words are blocking the simple point — my life is basically unremarkable to others, but it’s pretty wonderful to me. In a sense, it’s a selfish thing, but in another sense, these things are wrapped up in consciousness, which is essentially private. It’s nice to experience cuddling, to experience conversation, to experience the “miracle of childbirth” — it’s a pretty common miracle, has happened billions of times, but it’s still miraculous to you. As a parent, you have created life, you’re witnessing a new life, the beginning of life (as it was also miraculous to witness Gracie’s death). These so-very-common experiences continue to be the most significant, the most profound, the most wonderful, sublime experiences. And they’re basically impossible to share, to tell others about. Even when people have both (each?) experienced these things, there’s just not much to say.

[From journal of Sun., 6 July 2008, Journal 103, page 20-3]

New dog ‘Sam’: ‘He’s cute and oddly tiny’

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Puppy Sam, eyeing a gray cat, partially visible at lower right corner of photo. Both animals are near the door to my grandma’s goat-milking house. Late summer, 2008.

Some facts from trip [from here to Denver and back] — gas receipts: …

Totals: 83.52 gallons, $316.07, avg. price/gal = $316.07/83.52 = $3.78/gal avg.

Total miles: 2389.5 miles/83.52 gals = 28.61 mpg at avg. speed of 70-75 mph in 2008 Scion XB, with now just over 20,000 miles

Well, clearly, I’m burying the lede here — [We] got our new dog yesterday. We brought him home and sat under safety tree and [grandma] P. and [uncle] L. and [cousin] E. came and P. just says, “Sam.” So after we said the name the other day, and P. said it, unprompted, uninformed by our earlier discussion, we decided on “Sam.” He’s cute and oddly tiny — a runt, perhaps, or a little malnourished, what with the worms and all …

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Puppy Sam, with his frequently used expression of concern.

And we had the puppy home in early afternoon and we walked him to quarry. Most of the way he walked himself. We joked that maybe he’s already 3 years old. He seems very smart and oddly proportionate. Most puppies are disproportionate. But his paws aren’t even very big, as [my grandpa] and M pointed out. “The World’s Smallest Lab,” I called him this morning.

He’s a biter. We had — I had, anyway — forgotten how bitey little dogs — puppies — are. And this morning I introduced him to [uncle] L’s dogs, who were barking at him as he was near [grandpa’s] pond as if he were a cat. I took him down there to L’s and he shivered a bit, and the other dogs were reluctant to meet him. Chester [a bloodhound] not too reluctant, but Sis [a hound] came within 10 feet and started to leave. I had to call her near, and Spuddy [hound-mix] was very leery, too, almost leaning sideways. … L came to his front door and said big dogs think little dogs are too needy. He said [his old dog] Rufus wouldn’t get near his own litter he fathered with Annie.

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Neighboring bloodhound Chester meets Sammy dog as pup. Late summer, 2008.

I went to Byron and got film and stuff. M said while I was gone, Sammy was carrying around a piece of newspaper folded only once — and there was an ad for “Sam’s” something on it. He met Kiki and Beezus [my grandparents’ Lhasa Apsos], who had been going nuts inside the house but weren’t really all that interested once they met him — later, inside P’s house, he chewed on one of those other dogs’ beef bones, and neither dog scolded him. He stayed in P’s deck pen while we went to Rockford — Beef-A-Roo, Petco …, Farm & Fleet for pen and crate. We won’t force him into the crate as we did Gracie on her first night. And there was very little separation anxiety last night. We set up pen and crate and, pen around the crate, with crate door open and a blanket inside and a towel over … for dark. When he picked out his own spots to lie down, he was going behind the front door or under chairs — smaller, darker spots. But then [his seller] said she had him in a pen by himself at nights and let him out into the hallway (or something like) near the miniature horse during the daytime. She said he was smart, but she didn’t say, and we didn’t ask, what she meant by smart, how she could tell that.

He — he’s just so small. And it’s — suddenly there’s a dog’s presence in the apartment again. Really pretty easy, that was. We cried about Gracie last night after looking at dog foods at Petco. And how hard it seems to pick a good food, how we used to do that for Gracie, pick a food that was healthy and wouldn’t give her allergies. And how that was stressful and it felt a little stressful last night and then I thought, eh, it doesn’t need to be stressful. Don’t approach dog ownership like that, thinking it has to be stressful.

How small he is — his ears not much bigger than the width of my thumb, and he’s got that puppy swell — a touch acrid, a slight bit like a skunk, but not offensive. And so cute now — I took nearly 3 rolls [of film pictures] yesterday alone. I want to document the early cute stuff — he’ll soon not be that. Yet he doesn’t really have a personality yet as older (adult) dogs do.

Ah, well. We’re going to Sycamore, to court.

We handle dog rearing better now than we did with Gracie.

OK, I checked: his ears are more like both my thumbs together.

Swimming in quarry: he followed me in. He got feet wet, hesitated just a bit, then walked in, then swam. I didn’t even have to introduce him to it.

He just plows through things, going forward and over, not around, legs and things in his way.

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Small Sammy!

[From journal of Weds., 13 Aug. 2008, Journal 103, pages 401-404. Pics of more-mature Sam here, here, and here]

‘Do you think there’s anything, you know, cosmically, that amounts from all this?’

Though I like the routine school (work) gives my life, I am liking the summer, too. I’m finally relaxed enough to take on new projects, like cleaning, and even if we barely have the energy to keep clean while I’m in school, at least if we do the big organizing projects during the summer, when I do have energy, that’s a good thing to do. …

Birds: I remember last summer thinking that it was fairly quiet in the morning long before the end of summer. And last Thursday, I saw a baby robin at Mom’s house and a baby oriole, both could fly, and [my grandma] last week shut the gray cat into the milk room to protect a baby robin somewhere in the yard. So the baby birds are about to leave the next, and then they’ll fly away — so maybe early-mid July is normally when birds start departing? You always notice the return of the birds in spring — their noises after the winter’s quiet. But you don’t notice their absence. It’s not as striking. Some birds hang on, etc.

D.M. and email — he asks, “Do you think there’s anything, you know, cosmically, that amounts from all this? Like energy we’re generating with emotions or anything? … It looks to me logically like we’re animals … is there anything behind any of this, in your opinion? Anything more? Or is it this, and then we die, and the billions grow and roll on.” Also … “Obviously, you don’t know — I mean, no one does, but I know you like to think about ideas and I’m curious about your idea on this — I don’t think I’ve heard your take on this for a long time. It’s true to pattern as we get older. I think we’re supposed to believe more and more there’s got to be something, right?”

A more in-depth reaction later, but first thoughts: I’m still figuring out how to get along in this life, let alone trying to figure out afterlife. … Where meaning?

8:20 AM, at Tranquility Cafe at Swedes [hospital]: M’s getting X-ray, then CT scan. I’m not waiting in the waiting room where she left me, but … does she … well, maybe I should be there to support her … but somehow I don’t feel I need to — it’s just X-ray and CT scan. I can’t even be in the room with her. Still …

[From journal of Wed., 9 July 2008, Journal 103, page 47-8]