Tag Archives: 2015

Writings I do as myself, where I am trying to mean

When I say “journal” now, I’m generally using that to describe writings I do as myself, where I am trying to mean, trying to say what I mean, and also, to mean what I say (or I correct myself … ).

But there’s something very different about the poetry I’m writing from McKuen’s poems. I don’t mean what they say, in a literal or corresponding-to-truth sense. But I do think my new texts there can function as poems in which there is an idea—it’s not a random pile or list of words. There was a human mind shaping, choosing, choosing and shaping into phrases or sentences. I’ll be damned but there is some coherence or unity-value, some value in the coherence or unity of the sentence as a basic thought—a “complete thought,” as the English teachers say. Even if the sentence is/gets interrupted, there’s a familiarity there, to the mind, of the sentence structure, and I can write literally absurd contents within the form of the sentence. Of course, any form can be challenged—even a non-sentence list can seem meaningful, or seem sensible, when a mind goes to work on it and detects combinations, etc. This is what I try to teach students through the Poetry Bingo activity.

But, damn, I feel kinda far out here. I feel I’m at some kind of avant-garde edge. I’m not saying I’m the first here, but it’s a seldom-visited place.

[From journal of Sat., 21 Feb. 2015, Journal 204, page 129-30]

Whenever I feel the urge to Make A Point, I should probably not

I can tell I’m writing smaller with the suggested rules being narrower than the dots in previous notebook. I wonder if writing small is harder on my muscles.

So, I did nap after eating a bit, and then I got up about 3 as M was leaving for B__’s birthday party for A___. … M home around 6:30 or 7. … In the p.m., I did do two loads laundry and photographed J209. Once I photograph J213, I’ll be caught up on those, then I can do the pocket pages—which task had seemed enormous, but now I’m thinking that it’s really only like photographing one journal per year. One journal, one notebook-length work (about 200 pages) per year. But it is hard on my neck and back, which get tense, to do more than one a day.

So, I walked dog about 6:30, so M must’ve come—wasn’t it just as we were getting back? And dog wanted to run up to her car? That’s happened several times. I think yesterday was one of those, but I’m not eager to trust my memory on that. I think that happened yesterday, but maybe I’m mixing that up with some other time.

8:04 a.m. The Today show should be on. I checked for G.M.A.—just blank screen, no show at all on local ABC this morning.

M went to bed at 9, after two Law & Orders, and I went to bed, after reading online, a little after 10.

And it’s overcast and humid now, but I’m not sure if we’ll get any more rain. It doesn’t look like any fell overnight, as was predicted by Channel 23 dude on Friday night’s newscast.

So, M got annoyed with me, understandably, for sorta picking an argument with her about fiction. As we watched L&O, I said I wonder what’s the value of crime fiction. M said it’s interesting to see why people commit crimes. I’d tried to make a point about how so much fiction seems moral. M said maybe Of Mice and Men was interesting ‘cuz it showed the inadequacy of mental health facilities in 1930s. I got annoyed because others have also told me that (without them having much evidence for it), and so M said I was trying to generalize here. And she left a few minutes later, after 8 p.m. episode (from 1994—we watched two—one was “Mayhem,” maybe, with three murders, and 2nd was a sports star who killed his dad.)

And I looked up online to see what the original reception was to the Of Mice book. Google Books took me to a couple book sources (and I found one other blog source that said Edmund Wilson wasn’t a fan, as he wasn’t a fan of Steinbeck generally, blog said). One criticism was that Steinbeck makes humans to be like animals—a point I’ve made. And a Google Book source—a book about Of Mice criticism (a lot of recent reviews of the book are reverent and glowing—by people who feel they can’t criticize a classic?) had Jungian, Marxist, etc. “readings” of the text, which are all fine, but I was reminded—I reminded myself—that I didn’t need to take it all that seriously, that whenever I feel the urge to Make A Point, I should probably not fret that point or blog it, but let it go. It’s a sense of Rightness, of Righteousness, a sense that I need to criticize this book that others like—as if “I must show them the way!” Blah.

I can remember—and take for myself—the advice I gave (or implied ) to my English 2 students this week: yeah, we gotta read this, but we don’t have to accept what it says. We can be skeptical, form our own opinions of what clasims the book makes.

I don’t gotta comment on others’ texts—I can come back to comment on real life directly!

[From journal of Sun., 23 August 2015, Journal 214, page 6-10]

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]

This morning I walked dog just a little, down the block

This morning I walked dog just a little, down the block to even with H__s’ and back. Poor dog was limping (or bunny -hopping, when he wanted to move quicker) on his ACL-repaired right rear leg, maybe because of him running hard when I sprayed him yesterday.

So, I keep thinking about the idea, the possibility, of moving to Boulder (“Bolder,” I’ve been spelling it lately). And maybe I get a bit intense/obsessive about this because it—this issue of where to live—is something I got over but fretted about for a long time (does the word “fretted” convey obsession? As when I say that the dog fretted (kept licking) his legs last evening until I gave him the blue licky-treats holder with a new domed-circle treat in it, and then he fretted—”worried,” also, is used here—the licky toy).

So, yeah, maybe this question of where to live is something I have in mind a lot of time. That would explain why I even would describe vacation to F____ as a place I wouldn’t wanna live (maybe—probably—I shouldn’t have said that in front of J____ on our last day together. Saying criticisms of F____ comes across maybe as political—in the politics between J___ and D____).

And anyway, we’re not going anywhere, what with my tenure and M’s office and all.

[From journal of Sunday, 16 August 2015, Journal 213, page 167-9]

I’m my voice. I’m not a science dude reaching for universality.

I’m my voice. I’m not a science dude reaching for universality. …

I do sometimes just want to publish something—hopefully an interesting something, but something. And I know there’s more to being alive than just publishing or debating ideas or even writing journals—oh, sure—but ideas are fun, I like ’em—and I don’t always (see Sat. night’s description in Sunday journals) feel like posting, but I sometimes (like yesterday) do. It’s just ideas—but ideas can be cool, can help me, help others, to live better, more deeply, more calmly, maybe.

Now, I made assertions that could get some sensitive people upset—I’m not paid, as a teacher, to make assertions, state ideas—I’m paid not for abstractions but for my presence supervising students in classroom.

But also, part of my job, I thought last night, is to accept the rules and directives of my bosses as if these abstractions were as real as things—and, in an abstract way, they are. If I disobey, if I act like the rules don’t matter, I’d lose the job that pays for my house and food, and those absences I’d notice. This is ever the threat with jobs. Years ago, maybe at my first job at AgriNews, I thought this was too abstract—eh. It’s an abstract world—well, it’s a human society, built of/running on abstractions that I live in.

Huh—I really don’t owe my writings anything! I don’t have to be systematic! I can just publish what bits I find interesting! I mean, I’ve thought this before, but I’m realizing it anew—all my writings still exist! (recall back in ’98, when you bought the safe, and how they all—the total journal collection—fit in there then).

F**k—I write for different reasons at different times. Daily journals are part diary/record, and are part brain-drain/private rantspace, private work-things-out space–and partly philosophy-sketch space. And if I find something interesting when I graze back through, fine—but you don’t have to ever read all of your journals (or any past writings)!—seems obvious, but feels like a relief.

[From journal of Mon., 27 April 2015, Journal 208, page 31-2]

How I can play within that language-world flexibility!

I graded pretty much all day. I mean, I took time to recheck zeroes, take out zeroes of essays that had been submitted, and to conference with kids who hadn’t turned in Career Essay. I let a few of them turn work in Monday morning.

Ah, well. And so it goes. [A former student] posted to Facebook a Vonnegut reading—and [student] said his voice was surprising. I reposted it but haven’t listened to it. Turned off TV after MASH at 7, then

First day of finals is today, as I just wrote under today’s entry in table of contents—chart of contents? List? Anyway, I’m guessing [former student] knew of KVJ from Mr. ___’s class—whereas R__, D__ & I shared Vonnegut with each other, without a teacher, which is actually fine, too, of course. There’s nothing wrong with discovering stuff on your own.

Going over student poems yesterday, the CW1 revised poems, … I noticed I liked some of the sound-alike poems more than [students’] selected poems. I was reminded—on seeing a line about the “panda’s Jupiter,” something like that—that there is, well, or can be, worlds within worlds in terms of poetic language—how open, unfixed, language-world is! …

How I can play within that language-world flexibility! How fun that can be—when I’m not so otherwise exhausted. I have been reading online this morning, and clearly I’m writing and reading what I’ve written, as it’s being written. Now,  but [also] earlier today, I thought that maybe I just don’t want to read any extra at all today. Eh, don’t be so hard on yourself.

[From journal of Fri., 18 Dec. 2015, Journal 218, page 21-2]

Maybe be skeptical of those impulses

Back now, at 7:26 stove time, from pooping while looking at little books I kept in book bag from 2007 ’til 2013 (since then, I’ve filled a book a year). I couldn’t find the [boss’s] jellyfish story there in that notebook, or in the 2001-2007 Moleskine. And I had some other thoughts I wanted to write down here, but they seem gone for now.

Here’s a note from my bedstand notebook dated 5 Mar: “President Baker” (a name I read or heard somewhere) as if Baker weren’t a name but a description of someone who turns presidents into potpies.

And so, I guess today will be a grading day, maybe also a posting day. Yeah, you don’t need to look at stuff and think whether or how you could post it, and to blog or Facebook—maybe be skeptical of those impulses, as I have been lately, those impulses (I saw two robins fighting moments ago, and I noticed that the grass—a strip of grass just south of neighbor’s house seems far greener than most of the other grass around) those impulses to publish right away (Ms. ___ roared past a couple minutes ago. M’s shoes are leaving little indentations in the hardwood—M says she walks on tiptoes) are from ego, are small, closed ideas. I would rather share open ideas, like not telling people what to think. Don’t compare Byron’s beaches to Cancun’s—but just look for a moment at what’s here.

(Dog pulled the leash away from me yesterday, when I’d stopped along rec. path to photo a small, solitary piece of snow—and dog usually stops when he’s not attached to me but he kept going into the prairie. He seemed pretty excited to smell, to hunt.) (Also, my phone did some odd things when I put it in pocket yesterday while I was logged in—it took me a while to figure out how to get the date and weather “widget” back.)

Maybe I can show my pics just as they are, without much comment, and maybe my poems, like the ones I made last week with magpo.com, are, or can be, similarly open-ended. That I don’t gotta tell people what to think about my pics or my poems—

And I don’t gotta tell them what to think about education or anything else in the present tense—in those essay-type things I write where I explain something I’m thinking now—that that’s OK, too, if I do that.

There can be many ways of reading my blog–by chrono, or reverse chrono, by category, to topic—search, etc. etc. The whole document is hypertext—there’s almost no one way to read it—though I guess older to newer is the structure of the blog—the blog’s structure’s suggestion/implication.

[From journal of Thurs. 26 March 2015, Journal 206, page 83-4]

Tornado half a mile wide: Rochelle-Fairdale 2015

So, yesterday was 150th anniversary of the Appomattox Court House surrender. It’s also the date of the Ashton-Rochelle-Fairdale tornado—about 7 p.m. The sirens went off about 6:10 and dog, cat, and I went to basement. I called M at her office—she came home about 6:30 or so. About 6:50, TV upstairs (Candice King, Channel 17) was talking about a tornado spotted at Ashton, where it damaged Crest Foods building (the one along Rt. 38, I’m guessing), then destroyed houses at Skare Park (went just south of Mom’s) and also the house at SE corner of Queens and Bethel, according to T.G. on Facebook. M said E.D. reported that her house is gone, one dog dead, another needing to be put down. Then tornado severely damaged (not actually “leveled,” as Whitney Martin on Chan. 23 said) Grubsteakers at 251 & 64, NE corner. Weird to see national media—Weather Channel—talk about “Grubsteakers.” And I’m wondering about Maplehurst facility near there. Tornado half a mile wide, a “wedge tornado,” wider than tall—more common in Great Plains (Tornado Alley) than here.

Then, media reports say, tornado took out Fairdale (killed a woman [actually, two women], damaged every building in town) …

Sheriff Brian Van Vickle made a brief press statement. TV people were saying tornado was E.F. 2 or 3, but that National Weather Service damage estimators would be looking at it. Someone also said winds of 91 mph, I seem to recall.

And so, BVV also said there’s a check-stop at Flagg and Skare as of 5 a.m. and people need to get credentials at RTHS west lot, where Red Cross is set up. This was on Facebook this morning. I also shared an Ogle Sheriff notice from last night that said to “stay out of these areas!!!!” (Always good advice—a joke I’ll make later, you know, when there’s “plus time” added to this tragedy).

My student J.P., her name was attached to a video of tornado shown on local news—I think it was there. It was also online at, maybe WIFR page? Facebook damage pics were better than those at WIFR or WTVO websites. M said she was so tired but she was on her phone about this from 6:30 til after 10.

[From journal of Fri. 10 April 2015, Journal 207, page 99-100]