Tag Archives: 2021

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]

All their peculiar, particular intimacies: May 2021 notes

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Tree blossoms. Ogle Co., Ill. 7 May 2021.

⇒ I don’t seem to recall learning those skills I use the most often — tying shoes, etc. But also Google Classroom — I’m comfy with it now. A little surprised, I felt this morning, to think I used it a year ago, before I knew it as well as I do now. [4 May 2021]

⇒ “He solved Legos!” A puzzle can be solved — there’s one way the pieces fit together — but not Legos (that’s an infinite game?). No one right answer! [5 May 2021]

⇒ There’s no meaning in the setting, but there are examples (calm animals or calm (or tense) people) and attributes (sunny or foreboding) and associations (memories and ideas associated with certain settings). [5 May]

⇒ “Setting” — I have to travel through every inch of distance from house to my classroom. I’m always in a place. [6 May]

⇒ Listening to Steely Dan’s “Black Cow” and feeling a sense of ease from the lush arrangement. And that’s the feeling that professional-polish is supposed to give: a sense that experts are in charge, I can be passive and taken care of. Amateur art offers (or requires?) listener dis-ease. [6 May]

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Baby catalpa tree leaf. Ogle Co., Illinois. 7 May 2021.

⇒ Illusion of independent living: We seldom live (at least, stereotypically) in multi-generational houses, but then parents get old and our filial ties mean we’re — not obligated to care for them, but if you like them, you take them in and care for them. And you realize that independence — your parents’, yours — doesn’t last forever. Maybe I was never all that independent at all, just an accident away from taking care or needing to be taken care of. [18 May]

⇒ Vague idea about how bad (childish, beginner’s) writing is too generalized, form-filling — not specific and detailed and weird enough. [20 May 2021]

⇒ We exist to perceive a tree with a certain shape in the wind? And then to look again and see that tree’s in an other shape. [20 May]

⇒ Playing Chuck Mangione’s “Feels So Good,” I thought of a fall evening, crisp breeze, at my mom’s family’s farm, feeling happy. And it’s cool a song can do that and I can experience the remembering and let it go and not try to hold onto (live forever in) that moment. [21 May]

⇒ Parents invite their children to live with them, see all their peculiar, particular intimacies. [21 May]

‘Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else,’ she said. ‘I think that sometimes myself,’ I said.

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Frosty milkweed pods. 4 Jan. 2021.

§ Most public/ambitious people won’t be wise, so why read their books? [6 January 2021]

§ How I got over being clever and found, well, if not transcendence, at least something valuable, in being just myself, … recording my mind-voice. A far weirder (and a subfloor more foundational?) place than I could intentionally conceive. (I have been in recent minutes, reading about clevernesses in Confederacy of Dunces.) [6 Jan.]

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Up-close trophies. 15 Jan. 2021.

§ When I have conflicts with others, I try to resolve them or avoid the person, end the conflict pragmatically. But conflicts with myself — or, let’s say, arguments with myself over what I should do — these conflicts endure (R. Hugo essay quotes someone saying that your important arguments are with yourself). [8 Jan.]

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Salt fractals. 29 Jan. 2021.

§ I don’t want to win the lottery (two of them are at $400 million now/lately). I don’t want to be hated or envied. Also, money just buys you others’ labor. [8 Jan.]

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Low-angle sunlight on snow. 26 Jan. 2021.

§ My organizing idea, my gimmick, as it were, is not that I’m funny or that I make new forms of writing — but that I write in real moments from within my real life. I don’t want to state generalizations (as Vonnegut does) as if I’m lecturing from some indistinct, authoritative (established by seriousness of tone ) perspective. I write from within lived moments. My publication approach came from within my method and my writings!  I just didn’t always see that. [13 Jan.]

§ My journal of yestermorn (I think it was) felt calm — and I thought, calmness should be (is) just as valid a tone of a literary piece, a text, as tension is. I don’t gotta be tense to use words (as a lot of texts do). [13 Jan.]

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A snow bowl of sunlight. 26 Jan. 2021.

§ Not all my deeds and thoughts get recorded. Some are forgotten and that’s OK. [14 Jan.]

§ I prefer to see each moment as whole in itself — what exists exists — rather than seeing it as lacking, wondering what’s next, as a story mindset would seem to imply. [14 Jan.]

§ There’s that light on — those lighted windows in garage door at old [recently moved out of] house in my neighborhood. I see it and I think an abstraction — not every time, but sometimes: that this is an example of how things really will just stay where someone left them. Only humans can act. 

And I think, too, at a meta-level, that this instance-to-abstraction leap is something a lot of writers, especially poets (like Frost, maybe) seem to do. As a younger writer, I wondered how they did that — how did they make that leap? Now I’d say it’s pretty easy, almost automatic, to my mind. It’s connecting a particular to an idea I’ve already thought. It’s not always a new insight, so it’s merely a pedagogical poem that does this. [14 Jan.]

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Rural Ogle County, Illinois. Afternoon, looking south. 29 Jan. 2021

§ Of course my journals written in real life will be meta, will regard the acts of writing and thinking. It’s only within a performance that performer and audience pretend it’s not really a performance. [14 Jan.]

§ Try this exercise: Every sentence [in a text] has only four words. [21 Jan.] I tried that in a school journal on either 21 or 22 Jan. It’s a limitation under which to work. It did feel a little like writing a poem. [23 Jan.] Simple focusing on words, having a limitation — trying to write to iambic pentameter, for example — does put me (and students?) in poetic mindset. Of course, that’s not the whole of being creative. [29 Jan.]

§ I’ll be struck at times by a certain lyric or poem line or how a movie actor says/does something. Today it was in a song by Gotye (“The end, always the end” — this line got my attention). These things can seem fixed, even if they’re not all that meaningful. It’s there. My older poems seem more profound than newer ones — maybe this explains why. [22 Jan.] 

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Some kind of sunset. 11 Jan. 2021.

§ I don’t know, on any given day, what texts I should be reading or should be writing — which would make me feel good, etc. I just don’t know that. My standard judgments aren’t the same each day. [25 Jan.]

§ As I waited post-vaccine, a woman walked past and said something like, “Hi, Mark!” Then, “Oh, sorry. I thought you were someone else,” she said. “I think that sometimes myself,” I said. [25 Jan.]

§ If you sit and look at any particular tree — it’s not that the tree is so interesting, your mind is! [29 Jan.] My creative method: Throw stuff on paper. Go look at it later. [29 Jan.] Something cool there is about writing the thought of a moment (as previous two notes were). [29 Jan.]

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Crow pile at greenhouse. 29 Jan. 2021.

In art, I’m looking for ideas for living

I was also gonna say about the CBS story about whether some artists should be … “canceled”: the interesting thing to me to me was the question of whether certain artists’ art should be downplayed, because the flip side is that we weren’t demanding this work in the first place, especially pop songs, TV shows. These were promoted by lots of money from profit-seekers. Nobody asked us if we wanted M. Jackson’s songs. I mean, of course, there was no survey — he and the corporate backers put music out, promoted it, and the people bought the records — so it was a vote by consumption, and — my short answer is, no, I don’t really care if the art from shitty people isn’t so prominent. … In art, I’m looking for ideas for living (and, no, I’m not saying all art should be didactic). I want models for living, ways of living, experiencing, etc., that come from good people. I don’t need stories of people behaving badly — and, no, I wouldn’t seek to regulate some art as degenerate, of course. I just don’t care for it. I don’t see a great loss if I no longer listen to the jokes of a Louis C.K. type, to a person who has disrespectful views and practices. Again, I’m not talking about public regulation. I’m saying, I guess, that nobody owes Louie a career, either. Should D.F. Wallace fail to gain more money because he was an asshole to a lot of women (esp. Mary Karr?) I mean, at some level, it’s a no-brainer: a person can be fired from a job for cause of being rude to colleagues and bosses. Why should artists be any different? And as someone on CBS show said, people are complicated. Sure, I’m not a perfect person, either. … I’m not perfect. Of course, I don’t deserve readers, either. 

[From journal of Sun., 28 March 2021, journal 340, page 137-8]