Minds live in a lot of places, and minds don’t need tenure, either

So, yeah, (“soy,” I wrote, which is to say, I didn’t mean to say “soy” but the “y” snuck in there. The “why” snuck in — isn’t that always the case that the “why” sneaks in, at least mentally, and I wonder just why I’m doing something, and so often the answer that comes back is “because I have to — in order to keep my job, or to keep my house, or just to be a good person.” I have to keep my father-in-law living with us, spilling Pepsi all over …, because I want to do right by my wife, who wants to do what’s right by her dad. Sure, she feels filial piety — but also, what the hell else is there to do? I wonder if I’m at an age where I start being aware of how much I need the system — how I start to feel my fragility, or not “fragility,” really, but my vulnerability. I’m still feeling, seeming, strong, healthy, but I’m aware that that can be gone pretty damned fast.

[Later on in that day’s journals:]  My father-in-law thought I said “f***ers” when I’d said “Rutgers” and, well, he’s not wrong. It seems sometimes like the universities are where there’s a level of sophisticated living — of the life of the mind. Of course, minds live in a lot of places, and minds don’t need tenure, either. Also, I thought today that it’s — that it shouldn’t have been a surprise that people in the country have taken irrational positions w/r/t politics and pandemic. It’s always been true that a lot of people one meets aren’t rational, you know?

[From school journal of Fr., 1 October 2021]

Things I missed during the pandemic

Things I missed during the pandemic. I mean, did I really miss things? As I sit here today, I’m not sure. I guess I missed the sense of ease, of not being afraid to buy groceries, etc. I almost said I missed watching sports on TV, but, no, sports went on anyway, at least on TV. I missed … Hmm. Just now, as school gets back to normal, I feel I’m missing last year’s school a bit. Not entirely, of course, but I sure am a lot busyier (sp?) during the days this year than last. There’s no time, or, to be accurate, little time to plan and to grade. But it’s school. The pandemic didn’t really seem to lead to lasting changes, and maybe it’s too much to expect big changes, when many people just wanted to get back to how things were — though things weren’t always that great pre-pandemic. {Google has red-underlined “busyier” — and Google has asked me if I mean “bustier” — Google, I don’t.}

[From school journal of Weds., 18 Aug. 2021]

I made it another minute!

Bach’s a playin.’ By time I wrote the first time-quote on the line above, the time-quote had changed — but that’s the problem with time-quoting, isn’t it? Ah, well. So, I gave a quiz to 1st and 2nd hours, and I remembered that I need to grade the CW1 journals and several other things. But save those grading thoughts for later. You don’t have time to grade now — now ‘tis not the season for the grading. Now is the season of the writing and of the recording of the attendance, and suchforth and so on. And now I’m here, having arrived at the time-quote  of “12:23 PM” and still I live — I made it another minute! That’s not really much of an accomplishment — and yet, also, it is. …

I DO try to think of my favorite artists as not being superpeople — they’re more-or-less like me; I mean, I try to remember that. I try to remember that just because somebody wrote something cool that it was good to be in their presence all the time, or even any of the time. I think about the Chana historical signs, too — how any time we write something, it seems special, but no, it wasn’t all that special — especially that one dumb sign on Chana Road that says some dumbasses looked for oil but didn’t find any. Well, duh. But the attempt got a metal (poured — cast-metal, that’s the word) sign. We’d all like a cast-metal sign, like those blue plaques London puts on buildings where authors lived. And yet, to not have done something deserving of a plaque makes the enplaquened look goofy. And yet, of course, NOBODY actually deserves a plaque. THAT’s what I think of artists now, I guess. I don’t think anybody deserves a plaque. Nobody’s that great — or, let’s say, it distorts our understanding now to give anyone from the past a plaque. Mostly, even the great artists were, well, just, you know, doing their thing — doing some work, trying to have some fun, eating, showering/bathing, dressing, crapping, all that stuff. I wrote at home-journal this week that there are people (including neighbor lady I exampled) who are very helpful and warm and kind people, but if she never writes a book, she’ll never get remembered. I’m not as kind, but I’ve put down lots of words on paper! Of course, she knew the deal — what’s on paper gets saved, gets studied, gets remembered. She puts stuff on Facebook about her kids and her husband being a lawn perfectionist, and also a — what did she call him? She said something about how her husband is teaching their kids what  a “gentleman” is or some bu*lshi* like that. And she writes stuff about her kids on their birthdays, she characterizes them — hey, that’s great. I didn’t really want to characterize things lately — I don’t, I mean — because those characterizations are so flawed, they give the wrong idea. We teachers ask students to read things for class — novels or stories or whatever — and it’s cool when a student has, or, heck, when I as a teacher have, a cool idea/insight into what we’re reading — but the institution doesn’t really know what to do with that insight, or hell, even with enthusiasm. Teachers can’t care too much if students LIKE what we read in lit class because, well, we’re gonna read it anyway. It’s on the curriculum. And it’s ON the curriculum because, well, it’s not too offensive and we can get many copies of it — it’s certainly not the best stories that get curriculumed. 

[From school journal of Friday, 10 Sept. 2021]

Each person’s Rochelle

I used to be kinda fascinated with fictional worlds — how [The Simpsons’] Springfield had one of everything: one cop (well, 3 cops), one politician (Diamond Joe Quimby), one school, one Groundskeeper Willy, one Lindsay Nagle, etc. But now-uh-days, I’m far more interested in the nonfiction worlds we each live in, which is to say, the particular shape and flavor of the concept of the world each real person has. I don’t want to know about “Rochelle” or “Chicago” or wherever, but about each person’s Rochelle or wherever. I suppose I could go find, and pluck out, each of the worlds in my journals — or, I mean, the details may add up to a world, one that likely doesn’t reflect the real world, the real Rochelle or Byron or Ogle County. How could you ever even contain that in particulars? You’d have to fall back on b.s. generalizations — “Ogle County is X and Y” and so on, blah. Instead, there are pockets I describe — I go to here or to there, I met this person or that one — and the people I know but don’t see every day.


[From my school journal of 30 Sept. 2021]

It’s been warmer this week, and no new snow.

It’s been warmer this week, and no new snow. The accumulated snow has largely disappeared, excepting the huge piles of snow at edges of streets and parking lots. Temperatures have been in the 30s and 40s — no 50-degree heat waves, but no 0s like a week before or so (yeah, Gordyville Jan. 29 was in the single digits). It’s nice that the snow melted, making the streets safer for all humanity, and that it hasn’t been replaced, but what we’ve been left with is brownness — brown everywhere on the open prairie. It’s supposed to be in the upper 30s and 40s for the next several days, and yeah, that’s more welcome than the zeros. It’s sort of a no-man’s land. You can’t expect spring in the first week of February. It’s not bad out, but it’s not exactly pleasant either, but it’s about the best one can expect for the first week in February, so I trudge on with my job. Weather like this leaves not a whole lot left to look forward to.

[From journal of Thurs., 6 Feb. 1997, Journal 16, page 205]

I’m listening to the Super Bowl on the radio

I’m listening to the Super Bowl on the radio — not a bad way to see it — the action more exciting when described, “word pictures,” rather than regular pictures. But radio solves a dilemma. I was considering watching the game on TV, the most-watched program all year, which also therefore is the biggest advertising event of the year. I didn’t want to be part of that mass-target audience. On the other hand, those are the best ads of the year — still, they’re ads.

[From journal of Sunday, 26 Jan. 1997, Journal 16, page 201]

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]

As M was looking at bank records

As M was looking at bank records, she found a debit charge for $100 on 23 June that she couldn’t interpret. I went to the Chronicle [these journals] (like the Anglo Saxon Chronicle — I read about it over the weekend — this annual listing of events — this is how we measure time, especially if your calendars are a little shaky — how they’d (scribes would, I guess) add big events — a king’s marriage, battles, etc. — to these Chronicle books).

And I read yesterday about Yiddish language — and English — and that Yiddish is a Germanic Language written with Hebrew letters — guess I wasn’t aware of that, exactly. There wasn’t a lot to read online over the weekend — Wikipedia diving’s always an option. I tried to nap again in 2 p.m. hour but after a few minutes, I felt I should get up and grade, so I did. Dog had some spells on the back deck. He came in and smelled good — both this doggy smell (a “good dog spell,” M quoted B___ as saying of Sam) and the fresh smell of the winter outdoors.

[From journal of Tues., 16 Feb. 2016, Journal 222, page 47-8]

I’m interested in finding an approach (no doubt there can be many) to publishing journals

And when I looked at my old journal this morn, I read about having spent a Sunday (I think) watching History of Broadway musicals — and that’s fine — not all that worth publishing, though, which has gotta be OK, too, because you have written many things in the journals that you wouldn’t want to publish. I’m interested in finding an approach (no doubt there can be many) to publishing journals, the way I feel I found a way by (a form in) which to publish pocket pages ideas and quotes. And so, though I didn’t feel good last night, I considered reading old journal entries to see if there’s a way. I mean, I have faith that I will find a way. I didn’t know ahead of time that I could do most of what I’ve done. …

And so, yeah — I don’t know what it’d look like, quite. Ah, well. I mean, I’m probably too tired to figure it out today. Well, no, I’m not trying to “figure it out” — but rather, I’d like to just offer some broad strokes. I do like the idea I had a week ago or so that

[Warmed up soup for dinner. Had cheese and crackers but almost didn’t need it. It’s nice not being as hungry as when well. That’s a nice thing about being sick.]

… journals are a holistic thing, where I combine various aspects of my life, whereas pocket pages entries are more distinct one to the next — whereas journals are more knitted together — sometimes. But sometimes there are juxtaposes, too. Do I cut out samples? See, I’m not sure. Those journal entries may not be able to support themselves, like each pocket page entry can (sorta).

[From journal of Tues., 19 Jan. 2016, Journal 220, page 9-10]

This is why I have had so many awkward interactions, especially with women

6:00 (A.M., phone time) So, yeah — here I am. I’d thought I could lead off by saying that I realized yesterday that I’m probably “on the spectrum,” autism-wise. I mean, I do feel I can read people’s moods most of the time — people aren’t that opaque to me. On other hand, maybe I’m just German (I watched a couple more German Girl in America videos last night — she said Germans tend not to do small talk).

But I saw yesterday, in a Lithub essay suggesting Thoreau was on spectrum, was not “neurotypical,” that people on spectrum hate to lie, or are very honest. Here and I thought that was an admirable trait! Ah, well. At least I do feel I’ve more-or-less outgrown the sense that I need to try to make friends with colleagues or get them to appreciate my ideas. Ah well. So, but the nice thing I felt yesterday — I laughed about this, I laughed as I read this line — I was alone in my room over lunch — is, OK, so, maybe this is why I just don’t quite get the social scene (M said she too is not neurotypical.. She said last night that she never understood how people — regular people — were satisfied with their regular-people lives — volleyball, for example … these people M knew through church, they played volleyball and had dull-seeming lives. M said she didn’t know how these lives were satisfying. M did say that she liked being on college campuses, around other atypicals.)

So, yeah, I can start to accept this about me. This is why I have had so many awkward interactions, especially with women. But it’s not like I didn’t realize these interactions were awkward!

[From journal of Thurs., 26 Aug. 2021, Journal 346, page 117-8]