Tag Archives: 2011

Praise hampered me

I guess it started with [my brother] N__ saying my blog seemed smart but hard to read—like I was explaining the idea before stating it, or something like that, he said. I agreed. … N__ said—his basic point throughout discussion, as I understood it, was that I am smart (he used that word several times, even said he was complimenting me ) but I don’t live up to my potential. Basically, that I should be using my brains to make money. He said he admires Achievers. And M said at first that I’m an overachiever—and we debated what that means.

But my point was—and let’s blurt it out—hearing I’m smart doesn’t help me. One, it feels ostracizing (and when I said to N__ that he’s as smart as I am, he seemed genuinely to have not considered that before ), and I said when I see students who are smart, are great in philosophy discussions but they don’t do their work, I think of N__.

I’d sorta been aware of that thought before but maybe last night was first time I realized the extent of it—that I don’t know why those kids, why N__, both, don’t just suck it up and do the B.S. work because that opens more doors. I understood N__ last night and me as mirror opposites—similar, but reversed—that I sought praise, adult approval, that I never questioned the bullsh!t ’til much later in my life. It’s one of these whole-life (or large-part-of-life) narratives that in high school and college and beyond, I sought approval. Yet, praise hampered me (at Daily Illini, at R.T.H.S.) because it started to make me want to get more—a praise-aholic, a praise addict, not in a full-on addiction, but in the sense that I can fall under its spell. Even this fall, once I started blog and got a few readers, I started thinking about (stressing over) doing writing to please others.

N__ saw the b.s. of school but he couldn’t—well, he didn’t force himself to do the work. Yes, high school is b.s., I said, but it always will be—I’m in loco parentis, can’t let kids potty without asking me, as I at first thought I could do. And kids are hormonal, inexperienced sorts. And kids wouldn’t even appreciate adult skill and talent. They wouldn’t appreciate having a Nobel Prize-winning teacher. Every year you gotta prove yourself over to the new youngsters—which is, in a way, refreshing—they don’t care for titles much or accomplishment.

[From journal of Thurs., 24 Nov. 2011, Journal 149, pages 23-25]

Condensation on patio/sliding doors

Condensation on patio/sliding doors seems to be thinning. It was hazy enough this morning that I could barely see the power towers to the south. Thankfully it didn’t get to 95° yesterday. Car said 93° at one point, but it may have been heated by the pavement over which it traveled. More likely it was upper 80s, with winds from the south. My button-down shirt was soaked with sweat from about 9:30 on, and when I hung it out to dry there just before we left, it had had dried a good degree (not completely ) by the time we left. We’ll give mom the A.C. I feel bad that I said we’d ask her $100 for it, after all the work she did for us this week, and the money I still owe her from college. Sh!t, I’m ashamed. Oh, well—apologize.

[From journal of Sat., 2 July 2011, Journal 142, page 200-1]

So, dog to vet—dog just shivered

So, dog to vet—dog just shivered, just vibrated, while on the exam table. He had a little blood drawn. … M said [vet] sprayed some of the injections on Sam’s fur. I asked, did it get into Sam? M thought yes—so, we hope—$230 there, onto my credit card, which is down to about 900 available credit, I figure. I put on about $1,000 in the last month—live cheaper, Matt—’course, that includes Blick bill for journals and $170 last week at Books on First. But I just remembered I spent $100-plus at B & Nobel—CDs, M’s Astaire-Rodgers DVD—and I’m not sure I recorded that. M could work some more, make some more money. I know, she doesn’t always feel good enough to work, and I’m probably just blaming M because I’m worried about the larger situation—oh, well, you’ll be OK. Money will come. Money’s tight now, yes, but you don’t need to worry about it.

[From journal of 29 Dec. 2011, Journal 151, page 45-7]

‘Now’ is still an abstraction

Yes, it’s nice to have Internet, but it’s also nice to have physical stores. There’s so much change. It’s a little troubling how much change, and how fast. AOL was a huge company in 1999—it bought Time Warner—and now AOL is small and getting smaller. Its biz model of dial-ups is obsolete (in an era of high-speed Internet).

Ah, well. You just can’t think about that too much—it’s an abstract worry, and easily released (though M said abstract worries are also easily held onto). I mean, sh!t, I don’t know. I don’t know where things are headed. I’m glad I’m not trying to make money on my own.

See, just shift focus—this is what you were talking about Friday (see these pages for Fri.). I mean, sh!t, focus back to your life—not even on your “life,” which is also an abstraction—just today—no, just, you know, “now”—not even “now”— “now”‘s still an abstraction. Just write some sh!t down. Go to work because you don’t have anything better to do …

Eh, this is getting practically nostalgic for Fri.—so, yeah—what’s new? It was cold yesterday—16–18° about 4 p.m.—and then about 4–7° when we let the dogs out (us—us—us-us—in answer to that Baha (?) Boys song-question of a few years back—my dumb joke to B.A. of a week ago). You know, these pages—once I’ve written them, today’s pages will be as done as those pages of years ago.

[From journal of Sun. 23 Jan. 2011, Journal 137, page 73]

I don’t have to do what he did!

Maybe it’s writers who are conscious of writing to an audience who seem to try too hard—but my texts wouldn’t be—but can I really be innocent if I’m consciously publishing the work to others?

Cohering—texts cohering through persona—maybe—or how else could they hang together? Or is “hang together” a useless concept? It feels like there’s something there, perhaps.

Lately I’ve been filling about 14 journals/year. So, if I wrote another 40 years * 14/yr = 560 journals—plus 140 now = 700. Not even a thousand. But that’s a lot.

And Jim Morrison—how I’ve been bothered for years by his quote that he had to burn his journals to become an artist. Maybe that burning was an epiphany for him. And yet, I just thought, I didn’t even start my daily journals ’til I was 30, ’til I was older than he was when he died. So, clearly, we’re different people, different artists—I don’t have to do what he did! It’s freeing for me.

[From journal of Mon. 28 March 2011, Journal 139, page 40]

Accept him as flawed rather than resent him

Teaching into my old age helps remind others I’m still around. I mean, this is just another aspect of public reputation, and one doesn’t control one’s reputation, but I’m just saying, I guess, that it seems important for a person not to shut him-/herself off. That one ought to make an attempt to get out, even if it’s to the grocery store. On the other hand, maybe my grandma’s pretty darn happy not going out. Maybe she doesn’t care about her public reputation, which is every older/independent person’s choice. And I like going out of the house every so often—maybe I’ll feel different later.

[A cousin]’s slimmer than he used to be—makes me feel fat. I realized, walking down 2nd Street and seeing my side-reflection in mirror, that unless I keep good posture, it seems I lead with my belly—not a great look. On the other hand—blerg. I could lose some weight, eat better, but why fret it? There are bigger issues … I don’t want to ignore my wife’s requests. I want a good marriage. I said to her Saturday, after looking thru Dad’s stuff Friday, “thanks for being in my life.” How sad it was for Dad that he didn’t have a spouse [in his later years]. How would it have been if …he had still been his basic personality, but had tried a little harder [in his relationship with Mom]? In retrospect, it’s easy to say that Dad just wasn’t capable of it. In fact, that’s kinda how Mom explained Dad’s hands-off parenting to us—that he just wasn’t capable of it (of being an attentive father), so we shouldn’t hold it against him, which was her goal, I think—that we would accept him as flawed rather than resent him. That’s pretty, well, Buddhist of Mom.

[From Mon. 13 June 2011, Journal 142, page 64-5]

No wrong way to journal: From 20 Nov. 2011 journal

At Costa's Ristorante, 18 Nov. 2011

At Costa’s Ristorante, 18 Nov. 2011

Each journal is complete.

I’ve tended to judge some of my journal texts a bit harshly in recent weeks, in that they don’t all have grand ideas. But I need to remember that each journal is the result of a real experience. That I sat down each morning and wrote, and, of course, there’s no such thing as success or failure there — it just is. It’s experience — it’s not even fully described by “experience.” It’s me, it’s me being here, being present.

I am sometimes grumpy, sometimes over-generalizing, sometimes repetitive. But that’s all OK, it doesn’t matter. There’s no wrong way to do the morning pages, as Julia Cameron wrote. These journals aren’t merely texts to rifle through — they are part of me (and, of course, also not part of me). They are me being open, honest, putting words out there even if they aren’t brilliant or original. That’s OK, too. I guess what I’m saying, partly, is that when I go to read journals, I don’t have to be dismissive. I can accept what’s there — embrace it.

Shadow frost. 23 Nov. 2011

Shadow frost. 23 Nov. 2011