Tag Archives: 2014

Had they said ‘lazy,’ maybe that would’ve stung

[A student] wrote in her journal that other students around her were saying disrespectful things about me — “idiot,” and “r*t*rd” — and, of course, I have to wonder a little why, if [student] likes me, why she’d repeat these things — and yet, yeah, it’s not fun to be called names, but “idiot” and “r**ard” are so far from true that they don’t even make me flinch. Now, had they said “lazy,” maybe that would’ve stung, though, no, I’m not really lazy, either. I work hard, though maybe not as hard as some teachers …, but [student], or somebody whose journal I read yesterday, said I’m one of the nice teachers at [school where I teach].

[From journal of Thurs., 23 Oct. 2014, Journal 200, page 108]

Ideas seem more vital than feelings to me

I read a Tim Parks blog post last night (via Dish) where he says that fiction may be less necessary now than it was. Now, people can write nonfictionally about (openly admit to) abuse, adultery, etc., in a way that Dickens et all could not have. I’m not sure that’s the only or main reason to leave fiction — but it was interesting that he said fiction was a way writers would work out their own life-issues. It’s not really why I would use fiction, but then, I’m more interested in ideas than people. Were I to write fiction, it’d be a fiction of ideas. I mean, I’m realizing lately, thanks to this year’s recent Creative Writing stuff, I’ve been realizing that I really don’t care to read about others’ experiences and feelings. Maybe it’s rude of me, maybe I am a tidbit autistic, but shit, ideas seem more vital than feelings to me. Ideas are new, or can be. Feelings are endlessly recycled person to person. 

So many novels and movies have characters who make dumb choices, or impulsive ones, and I’ve never been dumb or all that impulsive. What seems far more vital to me are ideas on how, at any moment, there are so many different ways I can think. I can sit down and just have and let go of ideas. Say, sitting outside, I can look at the grass as a whole or particular blades, or I can lie back and feel like I’m gonna fall off the earth — “what’s holding me down?” — but these ideas aren’t even as interesting has having new ones, you know? 

[From journal of Sun., 26 Oct. 2014, Journal 200, page 133-5]


Sometimes, I’d like that person not to have to be me

There’s a sense in my hetero relationship — maybe in most hetero relationships — that the man’s in charge of house repairs, car maintenance, etc., fixing physical problems — and sometimes, I’d like that person not to have to be me — ha! I mean, no, it’s a natural role for me to fill — I don’t know much about cars , but I can change headlights, can do some things. … And, no, I’m not really saying I mind playing that role of husband — house-bound, the property manager, the fixer of problems not-emotional, not-social. I’m not saying I mind it, but I might be a little jealous, at moments, of not having my own bigger, stronger person to take care of sh!t, of having a real adult around to watch for housefires, kinda like I had when living in my Papa‘s house, I guess, it now occurs to me. And, no, I’m not afraid of having my own house now, as I once may have been. We can call repair dudes — and if we had money, we could get siding or other things replaced.  … Women joke that they wish they had a wife to cook & clean & mend & sh!t. I can joke here I wish I had a husband to do car maintenance — oh, yeah, my right rear car wheel locked up again yesterday morning — felt hot and smelled hot by time I got to school, and it was about -12° F. or -14° F. at [my school] when I got there (I think my car said -12° F., but it’s usually about 2° warm) and as I held my hand near the wheel to feel the warmth (a poetic-sounding line), I noticed steam coming off my fingers (and not the wheel) and my fingers didn’t even feel sweaty or weird.

[From journal of Tues., 4 Feb. 2014, Journal 191, page 136-138]

To decline what can’t help me

I’m not a leader or a server. I mostly want to — feel I got to, need to — follow my own path and sh!t. I’m at a point where I don’t — not that I can’t take advice from others, but that I — it’s important for me to know when to say no, to decline what can’t help me, to quit when that feels right. For example, I looked at a 1980-era … booklet Mom gave me about teaching poetry — sh!t, it’s bad. It’s — I can’t believe how bad it is: teachers who are sure that what kids need is to use specific imagery, to show-don’t-tell, and that literature communicates an experience (which is B.S. — as I’ve been saying lately, you can’t communicate experience).

Now, I don’t generally want to define my ideas in opposition to bad ones. Even if a dumb thing sparks an idea, you can still let the dumb idea go. But I got no useful ideas there for teaching poetry — OK, one or two minor ones, but nothing great, specific, that I can use today to teach in Creative Writing 2.

[From journal of Tues., 14 “Janviary” 2014, Journal 191, page 5]

Animated pipe-laying with metallic “clunk” foley

So, only 24 minutes left of journal time. Let’s try for the 6-minute page! But first, a rice-check. Rice OK. So, yesterday, gave out stickers, on a whim, to 9th & 10th hours. And S___ and A___, in 1st hour, after school demanded theirs. It was a bit of a demand.

And what else? Oh, and chiropractic adjustment and B___s were at M’s. I stopped and chatted before chiro and then home … And what else? Watched a Nature special on PeeBS about misfit animals—three-toed sloths and whatnot—and started to watch “How we got to now” with Steve Johnson—how Chicago jacked up the city to make way for sewers but I only watched a few minutes, as it started to do that PeeBS thing where there’s 10 minutes of info in a 50-minute show. The rest is slick graphics (in this case, animated pipe-laying with metallic “clunk” foley for each new segment laid), and the host shows you all these things you don’t really need to see, like a horse and a wheelbarrow of horse sh!t to remind us of what cities looked like pre-sewer.

And so I turned it off, lay on the ground and read 8:15 to 9:10. Coulda gone to bed early but didn’t. Bed at 10. Did a load of towels. Took me three times of rebalancing an unbalanced (thudding) load. And had hot dogs for dinner and carrot cake and watched MASH and kinda wanted to do that.

[From journal of Thurs., 16 Oct. 2014, 5:54 a.m., Journal 200, page 46-7]

Shape itself is no thing


Patterns repeat–what about nonpatterns?

My metaphors are all elephants. From Exquisite Corpse selections. 15 March 2015.

Shape itself is no thing. 12 March 2016.

[From Journal 188]

Not entirely like a novel, of course, because I was comparing

Yesterday, after my morning nap, we went to Rockford—Stockholm Inn (we left about 1:45) and then Target. M got clothes, we got those metal shelves—put those together last evening and organized a good bit of the library—not all of it, by any means, but we cleared maybe half the floor. Then watched Game of Thrones, then part of Silicon Valley, Veep, bed.

Just now I felt cat paws (I’m thinking and hoping) on my left inner thigh.

And after Target, Best Buy—bought a computer for about $400. I don’t even really look at the processor anymore, but it’s got 6 gig RAM and 1 terabyte hard drive—and it’s an HP, but pretty much a commodity computer.

And we got home about 4. I mowed and then pulled dannylions til about 5:30. Copied some of my files to hard drive off the old computer, but it was taking— literally, it said it’d take three hours, and it still never finished, and I went to work on the library room. And my right ear is still feeling full, like there’s stuff in it, and there’s that high-pitched sound I mostly can ignore but not always. Today talking feels a little weird—not terribly bad but like when I have a cold and feel like I’m talking through all the bones of my skull. I have a skull. (Unlike the snowman in Frozen, who explicitly tells us “I have no skull” or “I don’t have a skull.”)

So my writings—some things I read yesterday stayed with me all day, or at least reappeared in my consciousness. That Dad may have cheated on the sheep weight. Why would he cheat? I didn’t know him to be a cheater. If he cheated, it was that nice old English couple. Was it a manic-phase thing? I don’t recall, and I didn’t recall it in memory, though I vaguely remember it once reminded of it. I recall it was the blue-silver Chevy S-10, I think. But it’s almost like reading a novel, seeing these character traits—though not entirely like a novel, of course, because I was comparing what I read to the Dad I had in mind, to his character, which did not include cheating.

[From Mon., 5 May 2014, Journal 195, page 45-6]

You just have to not speak as if you’re talking only to people just like yourself

You don’t have to know what the proper group names are at the moment (proper for the moment)—you just have to not speak as if you’re talking only to people just like yourself.

Had a wonderful summer-type feeling on Sunday—I felt a looseness—that I didn’t think about school work for a while, that it felt OK to just buy stuff and set it up. Diving into cleaning up the library. Anyway, I wonder if this looser, more carefree, summer attitude was related to the warmer temps and the sun. I mean, I’m still tired, but just feeling better.

Weds. 7 May 2014 5:49 a.m.

My right middle knuckle got scraped on a cabinet edge as I reached for tea this morning–so I left my mark on the facing page.

And Old Man C__ asked me not to walk Sam through their yard. “‘Cuz why?” I said. Because he pees and poops and leaves his scent. I gestured with the bag I was carrying—I always pick up after Sam, I said. He said he has a dog (and he didn’t say that the dog smells bother his dog, but he seemed to) and I said, OK, will do. M said, when I told her, that she might not have said “‘Cuz why?” So we thought about why he would’ve said this—especially because 3-4 weeks ago or so he chatted with me and said nothing about his yard—and so, sure, it seems silly to me to worry about dogs walking or peeing in one’s yard. And really, he doesn’t get to say that to me without seeming like a grump. I mean, if K__ or somebody I have even a minor relationship with had asked me: sure, no big deal. M said she has never understood the C___s. She wonders if they are snobbish, look down on us.

[From journals of Tooz., 6 Mae 2014 & Weds., 7 May 2014, Journal 195, page 52]

I could go out and look at the hole that was dug across the street

Alright, I’m back at the table to write, now at about 5 p.m. I could go out and look at the hole that was dug across the street—but I also feel OK saying that it doesn’t matter, you know? That I can ignore it, let it go.

How realizing too that I don’t have to follow a link sometimes feels good, though often I do follow and read.

I was arguing to mom that simple formulas (like when school posters tell kids they should have goals) ignore that some of us don’t need, or are stressed by, such advice (and when adults tell you sh!t you don’t need, smart kids learn to ignore it, trust themselves, develop crap detector).

I realized last night that my back problems—one-sided as they are—may be coming from sitting in the recliner chair, which has lost a spring and sags to the right in the seat area. [My chiropractor] agreed it’d be a problem. He also told me not to sit today. I haven’t, much.

Writing—I sorta wrote about this a couple days ago, about what I want to write about. But I’m not sure I said this: that I don’t want to write so much about other writings, other ideas, other artworks—but that instead, I wanted to write about real things—including things people say. These keep me from getting too caught up in world of abstractions, abstractions-on-abstractions. But poems can be more about reality than news stories—not actually true, but directed at reality, or ideas about reality, than other ideas. News stories, op-eds, are often about other ideas. (I’m not sure I like that distinction.)

[From journal of Tues. 10 June 2014, Journal 195, page 231]

He limns that part of the heavenly godhead

Melville as a secular member of the lit canon— but why is Steinbeck there? Maybe he limns that part of the heavenly godhead devoted to melodramatic, dramatic gestures. When you want party scenes, go to Fitz. When you want machismo, Hemway. Perversion—Celine, Cocteau, de Sade, Burroughs, etc. And when you want dramatic gesture, go for Steinbeck: “Of Mice,” and “Grapes” but also “Red Pony,” “Pearl,” other works? Someone—”Cavalier & Clay” author on Colbert last week—said Hemingway’s prose voice seems more modern to us than Fitz’s does–so what? So H. may have been more influential—eh?

But these fictions that nobody reads except in school—what is the value in reading them? Perhaps they limn out/describe-while-creating-a-space-for—like how “Hearts of Darkness” creates a character who embodies evil/madness (or a certain type/subset thereof ), someone we didn’t have a cultural touchstone of before. But our cultural touchstones, if you watch cable news, are suburban killers—Jodi Arias, for example, or Amanda Knox in Italy—but those are stupid. Why do we care about them? I don’t—but the cable networks must think somebody cares. Those people are also icons/emblems/symbols of some larger idea? Some idea that may be banal—the woman who kills her boyfriend—but—(or the one who maybe killed her baby—this from Fla. a couple years ago)—but for some reason, these types resonate—but why do they resonate? Because they somehow embody a deeper (if simple) idea—those who cross the taboo lines and pay the price—the old folktale mentality.

[From Monday, 27 Janvier 2014, Journal 191, page 82-3]