Category Archives: Uncategorized

So, we left here 1 p.m.-ish Saturday

So, we left here 1 p.m.-ish Saturday and went to see cat [at M’s office], then went through McD drive-thru in Genoa [Illinois]. M was treating herself a bit. And what else? Oh, so got to Algonquin Commons [in M’s parents’ town of Algonquin] about 3. M met her dad at DSW while dog and I walked around parking lot and west on County Line Road to Boyer Road, past condos and back, and met M & her dad at car at 3:30 (I think my time line’s right here) and then we stopped and I bought $100+ at Trader Joe’s and then to Crystal Lake and I walked Sammy around that strip mall — past Bed Bath & Beyond, etc. At Algonquin Commons, Sam pooped near a retention (detention?) pond and when he walked by the first auto-slide-open door, he got startled, but less so after that first one — and he wanted to go into these opened doors.

Got to E___’s just after 4:30 for pepper-dip and to open a few gifts between M____ & E____’s family and ours — and to drink some of the old grape-peach juice M’s mom had given to Elena how long ago, Elena didn’t know. Then about 6, to [M’s parents’] casa, next to Russians next door having barbeque. And Sam and I walked past several other dogs being walked — two had red flashing lights on collars. About 9, K___ and her fiancé A____ show up. He’s 2 years older than us, and he went to U of I. He’s a programmer at B_________ [company] and he’s been working on his stand-up since January. He’s done 12 performances.

Maybe, it just now strikes me, my generation will take a while to get going. Some like Steph Meyers (aged 38, she recently aged to that number) will become notable early — others, later. I mean, we’re not having kids that young.

Blerg — there’s danger of generational generalizations ahead. M said K___ said she and A___ are trying to have kids. The live in Lower East Side, near Chinatown, in Manhattan. They live above a Chinese restaurant, a real restaurant for Chinese, where the menu’s not in English. And we chatted 9 ’til after 11, dropped M’s dad at mall to get truck, home 1 a.m.

The Loot report: perhaps fewer things than other years, but same value? One: a little decorative tree with nine crisp 50-dollar bills attached to it. A 10th had fallen off upstairs (there was talk among M’s family that Matt would be angry. Matt was more astounded and Matt was tired but mostly Matt kept that to himself). We had Chinese food delivered about 7 and Mrs. wanted to transfer the food out of trays into bowls.

[From journal of Sun., 25 December 2011, Journal 150, page 76-78]

Funny, how, now that I’m teaching, I’m supposed to have ideas about what’s best for my students

Funny, how, now that I’m teaching, I’m supposed to have ideas about what’s best for my students to learn, what it is they need, etc. They also have ideas about what they need. It’s possible none of us is exactly right. Likely their ideas are very far from mine — they don’t know what the world (college) holds. I at least have an idea, and a fairy recent experience at college, and yet …

Truly education is so broad. In Rockford Register-Star today, columnist Dale Dauten says, “People who go to college tend to have ambition and a tolerance for bureaucracy, and to come from backgrounds where they are born into opportunities and connections.” That’s key — part of college is in just getting used to/learning to operate in a bureaucracy. Fits in my recent theory (inspired by [my friend] Doug) how much current society looks like feudal society — corporations are the lords, individuals pledge loyalty and service to the corporation, etc. — and the university is where people learn to live within that structure: gaining the ability to be obedient and to please others and to learn the code of behavior — formal dress, interview skills, writing a resume, etc.

Yet of course education can happen anywhere — and as the book “E=Me2” (I started Friday & finished Saturday) points out, most revolutionary (as opposed to evolutionary), new-paradigm ideas come from people who somehow have an outsider, alienated influence on their perceptions. That is, they simply think about things differently than those people who are cultivated from within the system. Example: how Faraday’s religious perspective helped him imagine magnetic fields — not that he was right, but that this different perspective allowed for unique ideas.

Graded papers for 3 hours this afternoon; didn’t even get caught up with last week’s papers. The grading seems overwhelming, monolithic — maybe should be grading tonight but trying to get to bed early so that I can start the week refreshed —

Something I had no idea about before I started teaching (except for R__ I__’s comment last spring that I won’t have any time to do unique lessons but once a quarter or so): how much what happens in classes is not driven by what’s best for the students but it’s driven by what’s feasible: what is practical with 28 students, what can the overworked teacher handle, etc. I’m starting to see why teachers use multiple-choice tests — not because they are the best assessment tool but simply because they are practical — they’re easier to grade than essay tests, which might be more revealing, and certainly simpler to prepare and to evaluate than are projects/performance assessments. No one should be under the illusion that tests reflect real learning, or even that grades do. Here I am now, a teacher, giving grades, and yet I know these reflect primarily amount of work and innate talent, and only secondarily reflecting actual amount learned, ideas changed, etc. I admit that. Yet that’s the system I’m in — can’t change everything in a day.

[From journal of Sunday, 21 Oct. 2001, Journal 33, pages 80–82]

Something almost alchemical there is: September notes

Double-crowned carrot grown in my garden. Smiling Sam dog behind. He was probably waiting for me to give him the carrot to crunch. 9 Sept.

‡  Paul McCartney & Wings songs — Wings songs feel good — it’s a cozy sound, or image, or both (sound-image?). Wings songs don’t feel deep, usually, but there’s something soothing, comforting there (“Uncle Albert,” I’m hearing now, the beginning slow part). And maybe part of what I mean is that I could dwell within Wings (or any other artists whose mood I like) songs rather than listing to news — or other artists I don’t like. … My random journal bits posted to blog have a cool mood, too — not quite the same feeling as Wings (I’m listening to “Let ‘Em In” now) but there’s something I like about the mood/feeling/mindset my pieces seem to have. My journals as bits of my mind packaged (in a good way), bits of experience. Perhaps my texts convey a mood that I don’t feel as I go through my days and that I don’t convey in person? [9 p.m.-ish] Something almost alchemical there is about how my words, my texts, seem not so special when I write them — but time lapsing (and seeing my words typed) makes them seem more interesting. Realizing at about 8:45 that I needed no more stories or songs or etc. tonight — so I’ll go to bed. [1 Sept. 2021]

‡  Fractional poems — 2/3rds of a poem — no cohesive whole! which is kinda saying it’s not a poem, if you believe cohesion is needed. [2 Sept. 2021]

‡  Humans can affect things — but only in the ways things can be affected. You can push a brick but you can’t make it cry. So a human pushing on a brick (or affecting the spin of an electron) isn’t so different from another thing in the environment doing that affect. [2 Sept.]

‡  “You know how that goes, ” I said to a teacher colleague, about how a class can fall behind — and, as a veteran teacher, she does know — so I don’t need to tell her. Say only new things! [33 August]

‡  Physical background is calming. Something about how the trees and sky are always there, no matter what’s going on with me, is calming — if I can let go of my stress ideas (like deadlines) for a bit. [2,5 Sept.]

‡  Most work is done for particulars. But media is made once for general audience. A dentist or doctor works on one patient at a time, construction guys work on one building, teachers work with a few students, cooks prepare this meal for particular people.

It’s media and showbiz people who aim not to amuse a particular few but a mass audience. (And makers of mass-market products are the same — but belts, cars, etc., these are practical, needed things, unlike media.) And maybe this is why media jobs are easy for newspaper companies (for example) to lay off.  [4,5 Sept.]

Lilacs blooming out of season. Ogle County. 4 Sept.

‡  Quick calculations as I washed my hands in bathroom and saw a couple light brownish spots on my face: how many days one is alive as one nears age 50. Just my commutes: 2/day times 180 days in a school year equals 360 commutes per year, for ten years equals 3,600, times 3 (for a teaching career of about 30 years) for 10,800 commuting trips in a career — and I can’t do more than 2/day. I can live only one day at a time (no parallel days, no getting 2 days of commutes done today).  [15 Sept.]

‡  I can’t argue with matter — such as the car pulling out ahead of me, slowing me down. Might as well accept it. (I wrote this, and then a couple minutes later, I drove around a car slowed down to turn right into a restaurant’s lot.) [15 Sept.]

‡  It is wonderful, when I stop and think about it, that I feel basically good and whole in my body and especially in my consciousness, in my mind, most days. I often feel good enough that I can forget about doing self-diagnostics (sorta) and actually go look for tasks to do or ideas to consider. I feel good enough at a foundational level to even want to (sometimes) experience problems — for the thrill, the excitement, the challenge — that’s (clearly) remarkable — that when I feel good (so good that I can forget about myself as a mind and as an organism and even as a being), I almost wish I’d feel worse! I can forget about my body and mind for a while (though eventually I’ll be reminded of body when I get hungry or have to pee) and think only (consciously, at least) about the topic or question on my mind. M, because of her illness, has less of this ability (or less of a chance) to forget herself. [16 Sept.]

‡  Maybe the irritations I feel in my 40s (and 30s, etc.) are a kind of practice for tolerating irritations when I’m older and can do less to change irritations. [17 Sept.]

‡  I find my mind in a foul mood today. I don’t think I get in foul moods like this over summer break. And, of course, I know this mood isn’t meaningful — I’d like to blame other things for this mood, I can’t — and I hope I’ll feel better in the next couple hours. [20 Sept. a.m.]

3:44 p.m. I didn’t know how to feel better — but now that I’m out of school, away from other people, I don’t have to feel better — I can sit with my ill-mood. How to describe it? Not wanting to do things, not wanting anything but to feel better … it’s weird to not feel joy in the things I usually feel joy. [20 Sept.]

‡  On earth, with trees and birds, no, I don’t matter. But, I have a mind, so I do matter! [21 Sept.]

Clouds in a seeming center-radial arrangement. Looking east, north of Rochelle, Ill. 22 Sept., about 7:45 a.m.

Close-up view of some of what looked like brushed-on clouds radiating from a central point. 22 Sept., looking east on Bethel Road, about 7:40 a.m.

‡  When I’m feeling depressed, my identity doesn’t seem to cheer me up — it seems too static, to obvious, too merely there, to be meaningful. [22 Sept.]

‡  Don’t sell — just give — my writings. There’s something a little desperate in Jack Kerouac writing and selling things just for the money. [23 Sept.]

‡  I feel today like I’d like to think about only what’s in front of me to do right now (and not think about later, even a couple hours from now. Existence is what’s now, even as I imagine earlier and later. I’d like to be a character in Father Brown, if those characters realized that they could appreciate things as they were/are. [23 Sept.]

‡  I just remembered that Charlie Lindy isn’t around — he’s not in the world — to go eat fish at Newman Hall. That memory can’t be existing now. [23 Sept.]

‡  Big Accomplishers — Chris Columbus, Jeff Bezos — all the petty stuff they do everyday that gets elided from their biographies — and from how they conceive of themselves, too, maybe? [23 Sept.]

‡  Once I’ve seen elderly incapacity, how can I not think of it coming for me (maybe)? My colleagues don’t seem to see this — though, no doubt, some do. Once you’re diminished (by accident or stroke or dementia), your world, your realm, physically and mentally, shrinks. And I can admit, I fear this some. [23 Sept.]

‡  Living with less media is one way of living a bit more like living in an image (in a good way). The things I hear in news make me less likely to have my attention on my surroundings, on my being alive. [24 Sept.]

‡  Think about the ever-present my material body lives in — versus my time-jumping mind. [24 Sept.]

‡  At some level, we are, or ought to be, aware that our bodies die when they will, without any meaning, without our lives having really meant any meaning. Bodies don’t mean. Only ideas mean. [24 Sept.]

‡  Recognizing that I’m a passenger in my body. I am my body, sorta, but my mind exists only as well as (or worse than) the body does. This is not to endorse dualism, but it’s weird that I often feel “I” am distinct from my body, that “I” applies only to my thoughts and feelings and awareness. [27 Sept.]

‡  My dog walk yesterday as entertainment — no money needed! Radio ads, local NPR fundraising — these are paying for the entertainment via radio. Pop songs are the kind of things that one has to pay for (or not, of course) — but why would I pay for pop songs? … I don’t mean this as self-righteous or preachy. I just hadn’t thought so explicitly before about how singers who make albums want to sell their sounds — that getting rich is part of the dream of fame — but it doesn’t need to be. … Maybe musicians do want the affirmation that wealth brings. But I pictured today as I drove … Prince (or, well, any other pop musician) in a studio, hoping to get people to buy their sounds. Of course, maybe artists in studio don’t think about how listeners will hear their music — but how could they not, really? They’re making music to sell! I’m just thinking more bluntly about people who make art to sell. And I’m feeling confidently free of that impulse. I’m glad I have ideas and texts to share — and I know a text doesn’t have to sell. … There’s a joyous freedom in my writing and blogging and it feels wonderful — wonderfully pointing out a system different from the one that exists now. … There’s a spiritual aspect to this — that I’m focused on, I’m seeking, well, what’s real and how to live!  [27 Sept.]

‡  Money’s magical — it can be turned into food, buildings — it’s abstract and it only works on people (not on dogs, say). The more money you have, the more you can cause to happen (though still there are things beyond your control). I feel like being less ambitious, letting go of control, being passive — like an object is. [28 Sept.]

‡  I’m in a different mind when I’m working? This might be why it’s hard to imagine and describe one mind (work mind, say) when I’m in leisure mind. [28 Sept., 3 Oct.]

‡  “Now — well, it was now, when I wrote ‘now’.” Not a quote, but a bit of imagined dialogue about how the current moment escapes word-labeling (sorta). [29 Sept.]

‡  My body is an — is the — object I gotta move over 24 miles of roads each day to get to work — over each foot, each inch, of 24 miles. [29 Sept.]

‡  I’ve never before had a brain (and/or mind?) with this much experience! [30 Sept. 2021]

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]