Tag Archives: 2012

What I saw was a red-striped paper shopping bag zoom from the stairs

Markson’s Vanishing Point: It’s this disjoint, well, not really — it’s mostly a set of facts, quotes, etc. And they aren’t random — yes, they relate to artists’ lives, and death, as the book jacket points out/describes it. I feel like there could be many different interpretations. Well, yes, duh. I feel like it’s a rich text, and I don’t yet know what to think, except that I like it as a model — in the sense not that I would copy it, imitate it, but it’s a model that shows there are many possibilities for arranging texts. …

M. accused me yesterday of wanting to keep the cat here so her dad would have to stay away. All he does when he comes to house is bring us more furniture we don’t want anyway, I said. M said something about herself being soft-hearted Nano when she picked up Justice (I think we should call him “Judge”) at courthouse last May.

11:16: Back inside at 11:12 after 24 minutes outside with dog. His spit froze in little globs on his coat.
Cat was hilarious — what I saw was a red-striped paper shopping bag zoom from the stairs across living room, around the Xmas tree, and back downstairs. Later I found the bag downstairs missing a twine handle and I found the cat behind some things downstairs with a twine handle and bag part around his middle.

[From journal of Tues., 3 Jan. 2012, Journal 152, pages 41-42]

There’s a bench nearby but it’s still in the sun

1:30 p.m.-ish. Parked on Church Street, across Church Street from the new federales courthouse. M’s there on L___ case. I keep hearing a thunking, like a pile driver — really, in this day and age? Well, I guess they do still need to drive piles. There’s a nice big greenspace lawn here outside courthouse — makes Rockford look nicer than it normally looks downtown. Jim Morrison passed through my thoughts now, not sure why. It’s about 90° but with low humidity, doesn’t seem so bad. Morrison — the idea of Morrison — somehow connected in my mind to the Hawk’s Nest restaurant here to my left. Sitting here outside courthouse now — on the ground — there’s a bench nearby but it’s still in the sun. I had that sense of my butt getting warmed — that feeling that prompted the thought, “I didn’t know I had been cold.”

The pile-driving sound — a dull metallic banging — sounds like it’s southeast of here, maybe at the Amerock building they’re gonna take down — so I thought I had read in Rockford Register-Star. There’s a shallow — not even 6-inch deep — pool of water out from here, and a concrete quasi-structure out from here — like buttresses, but not flying ones, maybe. I’m having these thoughts — maybe this is where the Morrison thought comes in — the sunny, happy, day — like I’d like to have that joyful-sunny-day kid feeling. Ah, but you can’t force that, of course. No reason I can’t be happy now, anyway, you know? I’m just sitting here, with no place to go. It’s warm out but not bad in the shade. The bench is now shaded — benches have labels : “wausautile.com” and “2010” and a W & T logo … — I could go inside but there’s no place to sit inside without going through security (probably on purpose, that). We went to old federal courthouse — I didn’t know where it was. It’s just a block south of county courthouse. M went there first because she wasn’t sure if they’d moved yet [sun’s midway or 3/4 through a 12″ block tile at 1:54. It seemed to go through the previous foot very quickly]. Cute young woman in jeans & yellow blouse just came out of courthouse — she went in soon after I had gotten here. 1:56 — it’s almost a quarter of the way into next block, from 3/4 to 1/4 = 1/2 block (6″ in 2 minutes?), —  woof, sun be movin’ today.

Still the bench seat is warm — and I’ve got a back rest up here against the building. Well, I played a bit of frisbee with dog this morn, then started watering before 10:30, finished about noon. Watered all the plants around the house, including bushes I hadn’t watered before. [(1:58) Shadow edge is up to the next full brick — so 12″ in less than 4 minutes!]

[From journal of Weds., 27 June 2012, Journal 162, pages 26-7]

Creating as sitting and seeing what happens

I put some Nina Simone in [the CD player]. Not sure she’s as helpful for creating as word-less music. I said to Mom last night that words don’t have the sensory impact that visual art & music do —though spoken/sung words are more immediate than words on paper.

So, I like the idea from page 62: creating as sitting and seeing what happens.

Just now I feel urge to write that Ian, next door boy, is covering his partial plywood sheet leaning against blocks of snow. He’s putting a layer of snow on the plywood.

I should nap now, as M is doing.

[From journal of Sunday, 26 Feb. 2012, Journal 154, page 64]

You’re following the life you’ve been given, learning who you are

Mostly what I remember of that wedding is how I brought two outdoor chairs wrapped—unstylishly, awkwardly, ugli-ly wrapped—in plastic bags. Not smooth, Matt. But, eh, it’s clearly not what I was thinking about at that time.

Just start reading through your journals from 20 years ago? In order? Is it possible that, if I can look past my awkwardness, my embarrassment of my past self, that the writing was decent? Not all of my writings from then, of course, but …

I’m not so sure I want to go to this reunion, this 20th high school reunion. I mean, sh!t, last night I started thinking how the people who don’t see Rochelle every day, how they might be eager to come back, but me, eh. I was starting last night to think those thoughts, the same ones as before: That I should’ve left Rochelle, that these others’ lives are better than my own, etc.

But then I caught myself and said to self, you don’t have to come up with these “I hate my life”-type excuses. Your life is what it is; you are not in control, you’re following the life you’ve been given, learning who you are (as I say in less-negative moments). So, I don’t want to dwell on those thoughts—though it seems easy to do, especially lately—and instead I can just say (I was writing the last couple of lines with kitty on my lap. He purred, then leapt off. Before that, he’d been play—and is now again—playing inside my shirt that’s hanging over back of chair) instead (I paused here to hold Sam from barking at meter-reader lady), you can just say, “eh, maybe I just don’t feel excited about the reunion.” You don’t have to justify or build on/from those feelings.

[From journal of Fri., 3 August 2012, Journal 163, page 94-5]

Speculative nonfiction: “Silence 104—We play nothing, all the time”

Came home. Read some. M and I were up ’til about midnight—then there were what sounded like firecrackers outside. Dog panted by side of my bed. About 12:34, we got dog onto the bed and I kinda hugged him, spoon-style, and M said I fell sleep before Sam left.

Old Man Show’s back on [the radio]—he said #1 on 26 December 1942 was “White Christmas.”

Had an idea while outside: how if I quit [my subscription to newspaper] RRStar (“I don’t give a sh!t. It’s not like I ever read it,” M said just now, at 11:10, when I asked her if she’d mind me canceling RRStar), I’ll be out of that conversation.

How people get excited to see people they know on TV (Mom even used the term “Tebowing” to mean going down on one knee—I was surprised she knew and used that term.)

M and I joked about a radio station without talk or songs: “Silence 104—We play nothing, all the time” and “We’ll be back with more silence after these words from our sponsors.”

We joked at Copy Center counter about “Fiction on Demand.”

20 years—”Enter Sandman.” I heard that on way to New Year’s party. It’s been out 20+ years, that song. I played it at my graduation party 20 years ago.

Mom: there’s less pressure now on young people to get married than there was in her time.

Me: I don’t like life, being alive, well enough to bring someone else into it? My life’s not so great that I need to bring others to life. Mom: We don’t give life, we force it on people. Me: Maybe people don’t think about it this way? Maybe they just selfishly want kids, or didn’t want kids but had them.

Mom: Having kids is wonderful, but fraught—worry, disappointment. One invests in other humans, but bad things happen. Being a parent can be wonderful, but it can also be the opposite of wonderful.

People growing up to do their people-things.

The wrong beast: M said she was talking sweetly to Sam as I held him, and I fell asleep first—the wrong beast fell asleep.

Mom: “I love learning things—new ways of looking at things.” She said this when she was telling example of perspective, how an artist told about how important things in Eastern art are larger in depiction—a mountain is top or bigger (not distant as in Western art).

M liked “speculative nonfiction” as a term. (It helps explain stuff her parents say.) M said all nonfiction is an argument. Nonfiction makes a claim for truth, so fiction either claims falseness, or makes no claim. Every nonfiction statement about the future is B.S. (as Wendell Berry said, the future doesn’t exist), whether it’s an expert’s prediction or an idiot’s. It’s just that some predictions are less likely than others.

I was saying last night that the possum we almost hit in Chana at railroad crossing a couple years ago—the possum I advised to “pick a direction”—was maybe a “hobo possum,” ridin’ the rails. M said, see, you make up things all the time—why not write fiction?

[From journal of Sun., 1 Jan. 2012, Journal 152, page 16-8]

And here’s the thing: Even Shakespeare said a rose

And here’s the thing: Even Shakespeare said a rose by any other name would be as sweet. And too he said nothing’s good or bad but thinking makes it so—and these two thoughts together might be all you need to make a freedom creed of E__’s thoughts: E__’s world is E__’s creation.

Let go of thoughts. Be free, have open mind with which to see just what there is to see.

Have your thoughts—it’s fun to think, to know, and then let go of thoughts.

You’ve joined our lives, our world, already in progress. Other have said things before you got here—but it’s beautiful how free you are to say your own things!

[From journal of Thurs., 7 June 2012, starting to write the Baby Philosophy book, Journal 160, page 120]

Recognizing patterns & following whims

Words are always symbols, never immediate, always representations.

I’m avoiding representations in my coloring work. Mrs. ___ said a swath of yellow looked like a banana. OK. Sure, if you say so. I mean, that’s what it reminds her of, that’s what it matches up to in her brain. My brain figured out the bottles left on my porch were acid (or base) bombs pretty quickly last Saturday. …

Representations—recognizing a pattern— … how I didn’t think of the possible meaning of bottles at first—not immediately, or I wouldn’t have picked it up. Well, actually, I had sorta recognized it, but thought I’d be OK, I guess. But still, it was a radical change of context, from passively watching a movie inside to figuring out what to do (being active) outside, in a dangerous situation. But my brain did adapt pretty quickly, you know. It apprehended the anomalous, odd, unusual situation: the doorbell, nobody there, car down street, bottles, stay away, bottles blew up, car left.

And as I drew/colored last night …, I followed my eye, my visual sense, and my feeling of what should be/could be done next to the page.

Do our art teachers encourage abstraction? I sorta doubt it—they’re mostly about representation, kids starting from an idea and carrying it out. How tedious that seems to me—though maybe I should explain the larger context of my creative writing assignments to those kids—how I don’t really have a large theory to teach them, just the idea/attitude/posture of openness, and a willingness to follow impulses, to try whatever idea comes—follow whims. There’s my creative philosophy, my instruction, now let’s try different things.

[From journal of Fri., 9 March 2012, Journal 154, page 133-4]

and it’s disheartening if you think getting attention matters

… and it’s disheartening if you think getting attention matters, an attitude I occasionally fall prey to but then I remind myself that that’s not why I’m doing it. I’m writing to write—and I do like that I’m—I like that I’m explaining some things

(change that metaphor about processed food to the one about taxidermy? maybe? maybe not? It’s a metaphor, so it’s not truth anyway)

Pulling Sammy back into the house from the yard, he’d come back with me a few steps, then arc around back toward the north, barking—and—yeah—so, that bit I read last week about wealthy people at Hamptons throwing money around to, at least partly, it seemed, impress their friends. People in that situation think money matters. This must include P_____, who works for a hedge fund or something, so I’ve heard. It’s a little disappointing, actually, that he had these altruistic motives, then went into hedge funds. Ah, well. I shouldn’t judge. Sometimes, even to observe and write one’s observations is to judge. B___ wrote in her journal that she judges people—and she had even judged herself as not too pretty, not too skinny, stuff like that. I wrote next to that, that “what I’m about to say may be one of those obnoxious things adults say, but that eventually, you’ll see what a great person you are, and a few years from now, you may read this and have some sympathy for the sweetness expressed here,” something like that, a little sappy, perhaps, but … She also wrote abut worrying so much she can’t sleep sometimes.

[From journal of Tues., 28 August 2012, Journal 165, page 58]

One finds oneself alive

Maybe life just is—one finds oneself alive—some of us get to live longer than others of us do. And that’s my other thought that makes not having kids seem OK—it’s not the case that all adults have same experiences. We diverge, from our high school peers or college peers or any other peers. Some of us won’t marry, some won’t have kids, and that’s OK, you know. You don’t have to do anything—my dad died suddenly, never had to suffer illness like Charlie did. Which is why it’s ignorant of me to think [my cousin] could benefit from this bad experience: #1, bad experiences are sometimes just bad—we may learn from them, but we don’t need to seek these experiences out, and #2, sometimes we don’t learn. Sometimes stressful situations get worse, not better.

[From journal of Mon. 2 Jan. 2012, Journal 152, page 26-7]

They had to be careful—they were writing for publication

Kitty just sorta stood on back paws to swat at dog, and left, and came back to attack dog’s tail. Dog paid little attention.

How loose were these words over time—shapes changed, etc., but we’ve got pretty specific spellings, etc., nowadays.

And the sports scores in Rockford Register Star—say, lately, the results of NCAA tourney—see, I don’t —they’re so much data to me, since I don’t follow the teams or, now without TV, I’m not even aware they’re happening—not that I attended much to these things—boys basketball—I’ve used a couple times lately the line that “I stopped paying attention to basketball when they took down the cage and disallowed body checking”—maybe not exactly that wording—”disallowed”?—but that brings up a couple things—one, how much more paper I fill than a medieval scribe would have filled—but then, they had to be careful—they were writing for publication (now that I’ve got this great hand-made book, I’d like to make it into some fancy illuminated book—maybe a “Sayings” edit).

Sh!t, I’m tired. I could close my eyes right now—not buying new things—#2, back above—how nimbly my brain can deal with sounds & letters & words—and can even take these lower-level symbolic/representational things somewhat for granted (though I have spend time sounding out the consonant sounds, etc.—I’ve been aware of the sound similarities between how our tongues make “T” & “D”—I learned that somewhat, partly, not fully though, on my own.)

Sarah Palin’s 40-something and more ambitious than I am. Romney’s aide’s Etch-a-Sketch comment—that he can erase all his extremist positions once the general election begins—has been widely mocked by the online mocking/cleverness classes.

[From journal of Sat., 24 March 2012, from Journal 158, page 18-9]