Tag Archives: journals

“Bubbly ruptures” of fathers, children, homes — Random text bits from Journal 142

I wrote Saturday, I think, or Sunday, that I might need to wrestle with my ideas about Dad. Today, I don’t think I need to be so deliberate as that. Clearly, I have lots of questions still. Since I didn’t — don’t — feel like I knew/know him, since he’s a cipher, an enigma, to me, I’ll have plenty to ponder for, maybe, the rest of my life. [Page 66, Mon. 13 June 2011]

Neighbors — how one is distant from them, one may not like them, even, and yet, in living so close, one is naturally bound to them. They’re gonna see and hear (and smell, potentially) how you live. They’ll see you unwashed, mowing your lawn. … All of one’s home-living — showering, shitting, getting sick, eating, having sex, playing board games, scolding one’s kids — these happen in proximity to others.  [Page 81-82, Thurs. 16 June 2011]

My wife, M, has been saying lately that she’s not sure she wants a kid. She said yesterday that it seems exhausting. But then she smiled at a kid in a cart while his parents weren’t looking, and a couple had a little girl in checkout line ahead of us, and the girl had a little doll she kissed, and the parents didn’t want to take doll from her. They tore off the doll’s tag instead — pretty sweet. M said after that that maybe she could have a kid. [Page 217-8, Sun. 3 July 2011]

It felt really good to be going home to apartment. In my tired state, I’m starting to feel I don’t have a home, that homesick feeling of not belonging anywhere. Woke up overnight not sure where I was for a moment. I’ll probably feel that a few more times in coming days. It’s the end of an era of sleeping here, in this hot, dusty, crowded apartment, but it has been home for quite a while. I’m glad our new place is nice — makes it easier to go than if we were moving to a worse place. [Page 111, Sat. 18 June 2011]

As a teen, I found each book was, in a way, a door to a room I hadn’t known existed –– for instance, I liked Maynard Ferguson’s covers — “Chameleon,” MF Horn 1 & 2 — but I didn’t know the original versions. I didn’t know the influences, tradition, or history. And now that I see this, not all of history but the pattern of influences and contexts, now I’m less likely to experience any new thing (music, building, book) as entirely new. … So I probably won’t have that sense of wonder, of the possibility of finding a new realm in a magazine, that I had as teen. But I don’t feel inferior to others or their writings now. [Page 89, Thurs. 16 June 2011]

Why’d my dad leave the security and relative prestige of the bank — where people came to ask him for money–and go to sales, where he had to sell to some of these same people? I’d never thought of that, but, no doubt, some clients may have enjoyed that turn of tables. They used to ask him for money; now he was asking them. [Page 61, Mon. 13 June 2011]

They — my cousin’s kids — have to come to terms with that, have to figure out why their dad did what he did so that their own lives had to change so greatly. Shit, I’m still trying to figure my old man out–the divorce, but also his character. Maybe it’s all funneled thru the divorce question: what made him the way he was so that he would do what he did? Or maybe it’s sappy to think it’s only the divorce I see as the frame. It’s everything: his jobs, his depression, his basic unknowability.  [Page 164, Sun. 26 June 2011]

I was over at the house, packing canned food into bags and wiping the brown rings of what seemed to be–by deduction–sauerkraut juice from a can that had a pestilential-looking greenish bubbly rupture — botulism? Some nasty thing that indicates it wasn’t processed properly. [Page 164, Sun. 26 June 2011]

Sometimes I like to write down the words I hear, and I’m fascinated by the transition from vocalization to marks on page. But today, that doesn’t necessarily seem to fascinate me. That’s OK, too. I mean, sometimes, I think that these expressions of my soul–these writing sessions–have a a certain value in themselves, a scream from the void, as it were–a sign I existed. I’m not sure that that matters, either, really. After all, only other people can make sense of these things (and that’s only if they can figure out my handwriting), and each person’s interpretation of this text might vary, anyway. [Page 32, Thurs. 9 June 2011]

You don’t think of others as dumb just because they haven’t thought of the things you’ve thought of. Anybody over 30 — well, most people over 30 — are fairly competent. So you can think of yourself at 30 as competent, too — not lacking or callow, as you tend to think. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

I found this note [see note contents in paragraph below] someplace while cleaning and moving. I’m not sure the date of this note … I’d guess last 4-5 years. But somehow it seems neat to find ideas I had written down before. These ideas don’t seem so special at the time I write them — they’re simply “what I’m thinking now.” But then, later, they seem interesting. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

What do you take seriously? My daily journals. Life is serious, naturally, but also joyful, playful. [Page 209, Sat. 2 July 2011]

Submission to the unknown: Random bits from Journal 284

I could say — write, I mean, and post — something about how I will post fragmentary, incomplete pieces of text — my journal — because I don’t have answers for people (Clooney’s character in O Brother: people are looking for answers, he says a couple times). The GMA show today said Michelle Obama’s upcoming book tour is selling out stadia — woof. 23,000 seats at United Center (though maybe not all seats are being used). J.K. Rowling only sold out Radio City and its 6,000 seats. I don’t suspect I’ll ever write anything that would sell out anything like that — I’m not otherwise famous, as Obamas are, and I’m not likely to offer escape, absorption in story, or laughter as some authors do. But I’m OK with that. [Page 117, Sun. 23 Sept. 2018]

I don’t feel there are stories in my life — traditional stories, where a character is presented a situation and has to make choices. But maybe I’m just not framing my own experiences properly. Think about those times you did make a decision–like, OK, when M got sick and I chose not to run away but to get married so I could get health insurance for her. But running away — though it was an option, I guess, it didn’t occur to me as a legit option. And I left MTU after a year — that was a decision. So I suppose I could tell stories that way. Of course, I don’t make momentous decisions every day (though maybe I’m not seeing the momentous in the decisions I make — eh, I don’t choose to see life that way). When I’ve make choices. it’s because I followed my intuition, feelings, not because I followed some moral principle. I’m not sold on the idea of picking out moments of choices–much more of my life is spent just being. [Pages 168-170, Thurs. 26 Sept. 2018]

But I somehow also (in a vague sense) like this model of looking in my own life and my own memories for moments of inflection. It points out problems in the model of daily life as being this smoothly ongoing thing. There are these evaluations all the time/very often, and sometimes moments become intolerable — like, say, my needing to pee. [Page 212-3, Sat. 29 Sept. 2018, writing at coffeehouse in Rockford, Ill.]

Now there are the Knausgård  novels, which are deeply personal and whatnot. And he has gone in-depth — lotsa details, reviewers and readers say, but the few excerpts I’ve read haven’t been — they’ve been neither all that nor a bag of chips (excuse the lameness of that last line — the cheesy cleverness still amuses me at times, and it’s better to write that shit in journal rather than say it to a human. See, I still will/would edit my journals before publishing them). No, I don’t want to piss off my brother or uncle or others by my writings, as Knausgård did. I started reading an excerpt from his most recent (6th? 4th? I’m not sure) book, where he talks about the blowback to the first book — though he is an asshole, you know?  [Page 132-3, Sun. 23 Sept. 2018]

I read some students’ “Poetry is” statements — yes, from back six weeks ago — and when kids were saying things critical of poetry, I didn’t push back. To “poetry is boring” or “poetry is confusing,” I would comment: “sometimes!” I don’t want to pretend that all students are gonna like what I like. To be a fan of intellectual culture is to accept that not all others will get it — that many won’t get it. [Page 198, Sat. 29 Sept. 2019, writing at coffeehouse in Rockford, Ill.]

When we get down to freewriting in my creative writing class, as I did this week with the fiction freewrites, it really can be hard to make that change, that submission, submitting to the open page, to the unknown. Submission seems required for the new thing, the new text, to happen, to be born. [Page 82, Sat. 22 Sept. 2018]

A view from near the spot in Magnolia Bluffs Park in Rock County, Wis., where I met two plein-air painters. 30 Sept. 2018

The ladies had painting stations. The one who left first (the one whose station lacked an umbrella) showed us three of her recent paintings as she had backed her car out of her parking spot but she also hadn’t left yet. [Page 232, Mon. 1 October 2018]

At Magnolia Bluffs Park, Rock County, Wis. 30 Sept. 2018.

5:55 a.m. smart cell (phone) time: so, yes, here I am. Here we are — the cat’s on my lap after he jumped on. Had a dream my friend D somehow gave us his chocolate Lab — which was, in the dream, my uncle’s bloodhound, old with some grommets in his flesh — 2 up by shoulders, 2 by his hips. And so there was that. … The kitchen’s a mess. We made burritos early, before 5, and I walked dog [about 20 minutes] — too tired for more. Came back, put away the remaining burrito meat (Grillers meat) and was in bed just after the Entertainment Tonight show started at 6:30. [Page 239, Tues. 2 October 2018]

[Post above made using same process as the previous post, getting random numbers, going to those pages in my Journal 284, and finding a bit of text there.]

A road, too, is an abstraction: Random bits from school Journal 300

The question is, can I really be satisfied not getting others’ attention? Sometimes I really want to tell a certain ideas to somebody who’d appreciate it. But I can remind myself that many people I know are not people who appreciate my ideas. At most, many people tolerate what I say. And the key to keep in mind is that it is obnoxious and annoying to them, and needy on my part, to tell things to people who don’t care (or who actively dislike) to hear these things. I don’t need to be so needy. I can be humble and “go limp” and keep things to myself and not disturb other people. It seems it’s taken me ’til age 45 to really learn to be an adult and not an attention-seeking adolescent. I can just contain my ideas rather than imposing them on others. [Page 19, Weds. 13 Feb. 2019]

It’s not that I want to be seen by others as cool, but that I want to feel cool — like a a cool artist/thinker, a thinker of good/cool thoughts. But, #1, that feeling can’t last, can’t be permanent, and #2, it’s kinda ego-y to think that because my writings sometimes contain cool ideas, that I’m a cool writer. It really could just be that my cool writings aren’t about me, in a sense. I mean, I have a process where I listen to the ideas that come, and that’s what I do — listen. Hardly seems worth being proud over! [Page 193, Weds. 3 April]

Why is it that I like that “Kool-Aid Wino” text so much? It’s not just that it strikes me a a sweet image, a moment — it’s not really all that sweet. It’s somewhat depressing: the family can’t afford to take care of the kid’s hernia so he can’t work, so he lies around reading comics and drinking Kool-Aid. It’s just kinda a sweet little slice-of-life piece, and I may have a hard time seeing my own texts as sweet slices of life. Though I have published some freewrites — me at McD, me at Fontana — but, see, I don’t know that those seem sweet to me. And I guess it’s OK if my writings don’t seem to me as they would seem to others. [Page 167, Weds. 20 March]

Keeping a business running — a small-town factory, my wife’s professional office — requires there to be a cash flow. A business is kinda fragile, not so different from a living creature who needs food and water more-or-less constantly to keep living. And banks are businesses in ephemera, loaning to businesses and individuals. I’ve talked before about the phrase and idea of “an ongoing concern” — for examples, the canneries in towns around here are no longer on-going concerns — nor is the concrete business or a printing business within recent years, nor so many other businesses over the years. There are places and activities I’d like to imagine —  for example, the casket sellers in early Rochelle, sellers and/or casket makers (they made a product to be seen for only a few hours before it was buried forever). It’s hard to imagine what these ongoing businesses looked like — except to say that once the business closed, people stopped caring. None of the hustle or care mattered anymore. [Page 204, Thurs. 4 April]

My view of Holcomb Road, on journal page made from grocery-bag paper. 3 April 2019

Not a great drawing, but it’s approximately the scene I saw of Holcomb Road as I looked east this morning after having just turned onto Holcomb from Meridian Road, and I thought, What is it that I’m looking at? A simple answer would be “Holcomb Road” — that’s the common name for this structure of rock-covered (paved) roadway with unpaved (harder to travel) land on both sides. And yet, it looks a little like the map view, or it’s easy to see this line of /stripe of gray and think of it having a destination like a road on a a map. Yet, the road, too, is an abstraction. Any spot on the road is just a spot, not the road, and the road crosses other roads, and it shifts south west of Stillman Valley Road, and ends at German Church Road. and yet, the end of the road — thinking of the west end as connected to the east end (or thinking of it as having an “end” at all) is an abstraction. It’s not like the road is no more. If I’ve been on Holcomb going west, it feels like progress toward my destination to get from Holcomb onto another road. [Page 194-5, Weds. 3 April]

This morning I saw in the faculty bathroom a three-roll tissue dispenser and auto-sensors on the toilet, sink, and paper towel box. (These things are the usual equipment, but of course, auto-sensors like these weren’t in bathrooms until recent years.) Also I saw the interviewer woman walk out of school at same time as me yesterday. She wore a panda-face hat with an attached scarf that came down on each side three feet, maybe, and she talked about working all weekend, being busy on this day and that day. Reminded me of how hectic my life was as a grad student. [Page 65, “Tuseday” 26 Feb. 2019]

[As I did with the previous post, I edited the above text together by using a random-number generator, going to the page thus indicated, finding an idea on that page that interested me even a little, and typing it above.]

‘Each thought is a new mind’: Here and there in Journal 299

I liked the rain sound there was when the window behind me was open but it was getting windy. There was moisture on the sill, in the channel, and so I closed it and now there’s sound but it’s duller, muted.  [Page 174-5, chosen at random using a random-number generator. Part of Sunday, 7 April 2019 journal]

Facts (as in public records) and journals transcend the styles or fashions of an era, and so are timeless, and are informative that way in telling of shared experience, understanding. Artworks produced for others are made to fit the style of the times, whereas Thoreau’s and others’ journals are not public and so are timeless, closer to lived experience — what’s likely to be common consciousness across the years. [Page 143, Fri. 5 April]

People who see the world as narrow, closed off, versus those who see world as opened, undefined — this may be partly why I wasn’t an engineer. Not all, but many I met that first year of college seemed to care only about getting a high-paying job, and I, well, didn’t. I’m not sure I can say what I cared about, but it wasn’t a high-paying, high-status job. I guess I don’t care enough about joining the establishment (the bureaucracy, etc.) to be too bothered about this whole admissions/”elite” university scandal.  [Page 11, Tues. 19 March]

It’s hard (or impossible?) to write a nonfiction description unselfconsciously, without being aware of the oddness, the artificiality, of writing words to describe a real event. To write words, you have to have a different perspective from one who’s just experiencing and writing later from memory, as when the cat sat on my lap yesterday and I wrote about it at same (or seconds after) time. [Page 196, Thurs. 11 April 2019]

There’s a lot of becoming, not as much being, in these journals. Context of ideas matters — in fact, perhaps it’s context that, indirectly, gives rise to ideas or mental states — the context of my mind being open as I walk dog or drive or even when I walk hallway at school, even when I’m on a journey to do something, on a mission, I still look at hall-walls and if I expected to have my thoughts disrupted, my mind opened, every time I looked at that Exquisite Corpse quote-covered billboard, it probably wouldn’t happen. With respect to the “becoming” and “not being” statement above, I was (I think) referring to my journal writings reflecting not a state of literary perfection but these journals as revealing the thought-process of, well, perhaps of creating (brainstorming, mind-dumping) and the process of, well, the process of being conscious? The process of processing? [Page 159-160, Sat. 6 April]

Part of the Exquisite Corpse display in the hallway outside my high school classroom. 28 May 2019

Back after a pee. On my way to pee, I leaned over sofa back and petted kitty and called him a “squirrel-faced rat” and then I mentioned the “rats and super-rats,” and I said Justice Cat was a “super-rat” for messing with Holly Golightly’s feelings. That story presents a world that can be fun to inhabit, for a while. [Page 110, Sun. 31 March]

I saw, through the swinging kitchen door at our diner, big pots hanging from the ceiling. These reminded me that this is a business that is in operation — that if the business closed, all these particular tools would be gone — we’d have to imagine them. So much of what the diner work is is stocking and restocking things — the jellies, syrups, ketchup, silverware rolled inside napkins, etc. If I weren’t so stupid-tired, I could probably clarify this, make some clear point about how I was looking at those pots and thinking how much work there would be in imagining all those old shops and businesses and restaurants in long-gone eras of these small towns. [Page 61, Tues. 26 March]

I had some thoughts during testing yesterday and wrote them on pocket pages. I’d long thought of testing days — my proctoring, when I’m mostly prevented from doing any work — as mindful, but I also have to pay some attention to the students and also to the clock, so it’s not really as mindful a situation as I’d thought. A couple times I’d prepared within 30 or 40 seconds before the five-minute mark on the countdown (we used an online stopwatch and projected the countdown onto the board) to give the “You have five minutes remaining on this section” announcement and then forgotten to do it when the timer got closer. My colleague in the room was the “room monitor” and I was technically “the proctor,” and she did the announcement once and she reminded me a couple other times. I’d feel this was a sign of bad (or worsening) memory, except that I don’t think that’s what was happening. I think this was one of those situations where I’m a new mind at each moment of consciousness — that I awake with a new mind, and that new mind doesn’t include the old minds’ thought/intent. And by “awake,” what I mean is that each crystallization of a new thought is a new mind, is a new moment of consciousness — each thought is a new mind, rather than a mind having/hosting/birthing a thought.  [Page 189-190, Weds. 10 April]

[Editing process for the text above: Generating a random number, turning to that page in the journal notebook, reading that page for an interesting idea, and typing it in above. The theory prompting this method is that each sentence, each  idea, is a moment of consciousness, and maybe each moment, each idea, is equally important, so randomly directed selection would give a grouping of texts not bound by topic or by my favoritism. I want to create texts that are samplers rather than thematic statements.]

 

‘Don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it!’: April notes from pocket pages

“Paid actor endorsements for products. Individuals in the spot are fictitious.” Photo’d from TV 20 April.

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What am I supposed to believe about/from a piece of fiction? [1 April 2019]

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Most businesses are, or potentially are, so ephemeral. Even big companies need to keep making sufficient money consistently to survive. It’s remarkable that banks are willing to lend to these ephemeral entities. But banks lend to people, too, and surely people are ephemeral. A business must be tended more-or-less every day, like pets, to stay alive. [4 April]

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In creating a text, writers are offering a reading experience to others. What would be the full range of reading experiences? [4 April]

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Cat on chest, dog in hand. 2 April.

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The moment of me looking at the textured black plastic of my open car door this morning, a glimpse that I had, a moment of being conscious and seeing some real object — and it’s not that I want so share this experience — or do I? Maybe I just want to record this conscious experience, this experience of an familiar object. [5 April.] Or: what is obvious here and now (at present) is merely an idea through writing. [6 April. ]

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That disconnect of seeing and reading about local buildings in a book yesterday, and then I could go see the buildings today — I had some of this feeling about Monroeville, too. There’s an excitement in (or created by?) the reading? The dissonance in “here IS what I read, imagined.” [5 April]

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Bored dog waiting for me to write outside the local library. 7 April.

6:25 p.m., at the same benches on the east side of my local library where dog and I were a couple-three (or four?) weeks ago. Here I am. I did moments ago remember a thought that came during this morning’s journals but which I don’t think I wrote: that reading, in its ability to pull attention (and thus, minds) away from the here-and-now is kinda magical — or at least it’s a kind of power that reading (or words, basically) has (have). Maybe this goes to the core of abstraction or thinking or imagining — that is, having a mind helps people learn from past experiences and prepare for future ones, and so thinking can be used to help us, but being too immersed in thinking (in mediated experiences) isn’t necessarily good. Thinking is a tool capable of being used or abused, or both. Well, it’s a lot milder than my last time sitting here while the dog wanted to keep going. And, well, I am at this spot again as I write. I’m at a place on teh earth that’s not my dining room table (where most of my journals get written, even if I don’t state that fact every day). I suppose readers would have to take my word that I’m here. I could describe the bird song and traffic noise and the leaves rattling as they slide on pock-marked concrete. [7 April]

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If there’s no overall theme (organizing idea) in a publication, then one’s attention is on the publication itself — a magazine or the Today show or my blog (who’s only organizing principle is me). [8 April]

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The library’s tree. 7 April

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Where my attention settles as I drive. I look from place to place, I notice various things — yet I still attend to driving. This process of what I notice seems somewhat opaque to me.  [8, 21 April]

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George R.R. Martin’s fans don’t care about him except for his writing of novels. I think I’d like to have readers who would care about me as a person, and not just as a supplier of story-product. [8, 21 April]

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Spiders write poems at local video store. 7 April

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A property — not land itself, but a piece of land as a property — is just an idea, and a deed is just an idea — but so too is history just an idea. These suit each other. History is made from ideas, not from land or other objects themselves. [9, 21 April]

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I wrote a while (years) ago that I’d want to get a Ph.D. in now — not in the idea of now, just in now. But this has got to be metaphorical — Ph.D.s aren’t given for being. There’s nothing, really, to report — or is there? There’s no need to report from awareness. And there’s freedom from ideas in the present moment. (Like the Emerson quote about out not needing to bring rags into the new hour — but quoting Emerson does precisely what he says not to do, of course). [9 April]

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I knew I was close to school but it was hard to know how close when fog blocks landmarks. 8 April

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Writings are at best a way to instruct myself (or others) at other times to be mindful — or IS there a way to read mindfully? [9 April]

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Perhaps it’s my decision to judge my own situation at a particular time as being as happy as a story? My cat’s partly on my lap, partly on the table. His head’s ahead of me. It can be that. I just eat my cashews and raisins and I pet cat’s head and choose to do nothing more. But don’t be so self-conscious as to write about it! The cat shares his consciousness (he yawns and snaps jaws shut, then does left-ear grooming) with me. And now he’s down. I was (and am again) reading on my phone a New Yorker piece about Nelson Algren — mere ideas. [10 April]

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My arguments today with a student about the merits of To Kill a Mockingbird. I’d like to be seen not just as someone who has thought-out views or a strong point of view, but as someone who’s analytical method/approach can be followed. I don’t want to scare students off — I’d like (hope) they find something in my model worth following or trying themselves. Of course, I may never know if I’m a model for anyone else — I don’t know that I told my mentors that they were models to me. Maybe I did tell a couple of them — yet, what is it worth to tell them this? [10 April]

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Inches of April snow. 15 April

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What I write (even journals), others can probably read. If I can write it, others can read it. Even if I wrote in a code, it’d be decipherable. I mean, I’d really have to work hard to write in a way that wasn’t readable. (This in light of my mom’s point that diarists wouldn’t write if they didn’t want their words read.) [10 April]

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My wife said that the reason why romance stories often have love in extreme circumstances (between two unlikely lovers, say) is to convey a sense to readers of how their own love-story seemed unusual and unlikely — though of course it can’t be all that unusual, since people in real life fall in love quite often. [10 April]

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My wife said that when neighborhood kids gathered in our backyard one day last week, they all watched our dog turn away from them and poop. One kid said, “It’s really big!” about the dog’s butthole-dilation or the turd circumference or both. [11 April]

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Nonfiction is creative, I told my writing students, in that the writer chooses what to write and how to write it. [11 April]

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My work gets done just by me going to work everyday. I don’t gotta obsess over getting done. [11 April]

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Half my face and a wall of deed books at the county recorder’s office. 17 April

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Lot lines create properties AND places — a field or pasture isn’t a spot until there’s something to mark it. [11 April]

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This afternoon I wondered if I had anything more I wanted to write before the calendar day was over — like meeting a paperwork deadline. But I don’t usually think that way — dates on each note are more like “New Message” signs than time capsules (though maybe they’re both). [11 April]

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What’s the large number of times I’ve unbuttoned and unzipped my pants (to dress, to pee, etc.) — a few times a day for thousands of days! After calculating, I realize I’ve been alive almost 16,500 days! And if I unbutton 5 times a day, that’s over 82,000 unbuttonings. Of course, some of those days I wore shorts. [12 April]

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Reading Rochelle City Council minutes from 1874 for a research project I’m doing with some of my high school writing students, I thought about how detailed these are, how they don’t tell a great narrative but in their particularity of dollar amounts and votes and actions taken, they seem to make their time seem not all that distant — at least, as compared to how distant seem the 1870s settings described by Laura Ingalls Wilder in her Little House books. But then, she was writing about the 1870s decades later, and writing through her memory and nostalgia made those times seem distant. But the 1870s were modern for some people — and it was not really so different being then from being alive now. A person’s basic consciousness surely hasn’t changed that much. But there are several popular autobiographical fictions — including those of Nelle Harper Lee  and Jack Kerouac — that were written years or decades after the events described therein. I’m suggesting a distinction between writings done soon after the events occurred (like city council and other official records, but also journal-writings) and those stories written years later — that maybe there’s something about telling stories years later that makes them easier to tell, that the writer’s mind has a chance to shape the story just through remembering and retelling the events — and this years-later writing perhaps lays a sense of clarity of meaning over events that soon-after writing doesn’t have. However, these told-years-later stories take on a sense of the mythic, the better-than-real-life, while soon-after writing feels more authentic to how life is lived. I feel like it’s taken me years to stop trying to find that mythic-story sense in my daily-lived life. [16, 18, 21 April]

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I’m not special to my journals. I’m necessential (necessary and essential), for without me, there’d be no journals getting written. But there’s a difference in being special to one’s family and seeming special to one’s fans. My family needs me for financial and emotional support in a way that my fans (should they exist) never will. In their need, my family and friends appreciate me, but don’t see my mind as quasi-magical (an attitude I may have adopted towards certain artists I’ve admired). My consciousness, my experience, aren’t special to others — except that others can read about these. People who don’t write their experiences remain unspecial because they remain unknown. [17 April]

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As I grew up, I first became conscious, and then as I developed my consciousness (through experience, education, etc.), I became aware of others and of the world. I formed models of and opinions of others and of things in the world. In later years, my development seems to have been in becoming more conscious of my own consciousness, of my own ways of thinking. I think this is where I can still learn: questioning why and how I have the models and opinions that I have [17 April]

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Forsythia blooms, 19 April.

A slick ‘sh*t show’ synergy: A journal text

Thurs., 28 June 2018, 9:09 a.m., at Meg’s Daily Grind, southeast of Perryville and Riverside roads, Rockford.

I moved to one (the south of two) stool-height table just a couple minutes ago. There’s a table of three women behind me, formerly just to my east, who are talking kinda loud about 8$ beers at Nashville, and one says that where she works, the mail situation is a “shit show” when they’re expected to cover coworkers’ mail. And a fourth showed up now, and also some “bad people” — she repeated it a few times — have applied for something.

OK, so, let’s get into this, after reading online a few minutes in Facebook, messengering with L. about Rochelle history.

And there are smells. I smelled, near a blue spruce, a smell like 7-Up gone bad. And I smelled a bad-deodorant smell, and a dank basement (like ours at Ashton, the smell).

“Is the east side the nicer side?” asks one lady of the four women, one who used to live in Rockford but who got lost recently, maybe this morning. “Oh, yeah,” said the one who lived here. 

Candice King last night on her 6 p.m. show had a graphic — I took phone pic and am copying from it now — that June rainfall so far (for Rockford, I think) was 14.23 inches,  over the previous record of 13.98” in August 2007, and that there were six rainfalls over 1 inch in accumulation in June: June 9th, 1.97”; 10th: 1.52”; 15th: 2.59”; 18th: 1.98”; 21st: 2.36”; and 26th: 2.20.”

So there.  And I walked Sam — I tried to keep him on the pavement (a road is just an idea?) to avoid ticks. There was one roadkilled critter I couldn’t identify: woodchuck but small? Muskrat but large? My car’s now at Toyota dealer — M’s dental bill yesterday was $650. I put it on my credit card. We may get some of that back if insurance pays. And then we got home and made calls whether her spine surgeon needed official clearance from the oral surgeon — nope, none needed. I left a little after 1 p.m. and went to Rochelle City Hall, photographed pages 383 to nearly 800 in the 18601893 book of city council minutes — exhausting, my back felt stiff from all the bending over. I’m not sure that the Nikon cameras pics are better than cellphone’s — the focus is better, more assured, reliable, but the pictures seem grainyer. I left there, went to Rochelle post office to mail four packets of commented-upon writing to four creative writing students from last semester. I had to wait behind two dudes at the windows and  one lady ahead of me. One dude had a lot of questions to answer about a package he was trying to send the $20 cost might be worth more than what he was sending, clerk commented. The disheveled-but-tie-wearing clerk-dude was checking a dozen or more packages dropped off by a dude (from a business, maybe). Soon after, I was facing south to take pic of downtown from north, across Lincoln Highway from post office, next to o Masons’ Hall, and former student Z. rolled up in his car.

A robin outside has something in its beak, like a bit of dry grass, maybe — it was in the sidewalk and in the red-mulch-chips planter-space in sidewalk.

“One of my files is in a shit-mess because of her,” said one of the four, maybe same one who said earlier that one could tell exactly what’s going on in each of her cases from the case file.

Just got voicemail from Toyota at 9:40. They tried to call, it said. I’m not sure why I wasn’t getting the ringer — I got it earlier today. Weird. 

A small, trim woman driving a Honda Odyssey came in with two girls a few minutes ago and met with someone already here.

I somehow feel a little uncomfortable in this chair now, a little too warm, maybe — and my right wrist has a dull ache now, not a big deal, but there was tingling again this morning when I woke — a carpal tunnel problem? I do use my wrists a lot.

“The arbitrator’s changed and that makes a huge difference!” the “shit show” lady, I think, just said animatedly.

It’s predicted to be hot again this weekend. I went to Walmart to get bars (Nature Valley) and “Ice” drinks for M. (black raspberry flavor, no sugar) and yogurt. M. was supposed to eat cold soft foods yesterday (while mouth numb, so M didn’t burn her mouth) and warm soft foods today. Those were oral surgeon’s rules, but M.’s also supposed to eat soft foods after neck surgery.

“I like him as a person,” said one of the four ladies.

Last swallow of my latte. I also had bagel and cream cheese this morning. My back’s little bit tight today. I wonder if I shouldn’t go to City Hall today but take the day to just blog, instead. I haven’t yet blogged in June. I answered a question in a Rochelle Museum post on Facebook about whether Central School was located in the same place as the 1869 building — was the high school in that location, too?

Here comes a stooped (a little), older dude with long white hair, long white beard, three layered shirts, long sleeves pushed up, short sleeves, and a vest, and a ball cap, sunglasses, and an earpiece, as if for a Bluetooth connection to a phone.

Sketch of the white-haired man.

“I’m trying to work smarter, and not harder,” Shit Show cliches.

“We had to live in foxholes. We didn’t have [something]. You civilians crack me up,” said old white hair loudly, almost as if he’s getting pissed at them almost as if he’s getting pissed at the two counter girls, who are at work, not talking back, as he keeps talking. He also wanted a straw. He had some kind of name tag on a lanyard.

People get old and live as they can, and sometimes people have to live with changes — my daily back stretches as an easy example. M. posted to Facebook that she’s going to surgery — she posted it on her business page because clients were Facebook Messengering her. I saw it also on her personal page with 80(!) comments, many well wishes.

“Here you go,” a third worker says as she delivers a pink drink to the white-haired, self-declared veteran.

There’s a romance to the image of the young military dude, young male rockstar — or at least, there sometime seems an ideal there. But I suspect that a lot of young men are awkward, like I was, and that we don’t make good images, don’t seem like Romantic ideals when young. I think I work better as an older, more experienced person. I was —  what’s the word — young in the sense of being ill-shaped, unformed, lacking experience — “callow,” maybe? (I say, after looking at synonyms for inexperienced.)

“Uptown Lanes”/“Back Alley Bar and Grill” says a gray t-shirt (front and back, respectively) worn by a woman in here who just left with her son — that’s the Byron bowling alley, I think.

As I stood there in Rochelle post office, three or four people queued up behind me, I thought about the place being 80 years or so old, and the counter being established back then probably (though with some changes in lighting, etc., no doubt, over the years) and there were windows I could see through the counter cut-out, windows that could still be single pane, and half-round windows above the rectangular part, and there an old door not far behind (a few feet north of) the east side of counter —

“This is a teaching moment. Take the value from it. Don’t get mad. This is a teaching moment. That’s what it is,” says the Shit Show lady (I think it was her voice).

a door to an inside room — not the high ceiling of most of the room behind the counter. And dude moved one big rolling bin next to other bins behind the west side of counter.  And I wondered if I could work at the post office instead of or after teaching — there seems something nice in the routine, though the customer service part might not be great.

The white-haired dude went to counter and said some stuff and again, “You civilians crack me up,” and leaves. He’d sat on a cushioned chair and was quiet while here. Out in parking lot, now he holds arms out to side and limps a little as he walks away from me. Dude talked at the worker who looks like a dark-haired student of mine. Other worker was a tough-looking small blonde. The one who brought him the pink drink was a taller, older (30s?) lady. This reminds me of

“I totally agree. I think that’s a big part of her problem,” says Shit Show,and when I look over, she’s making a big eye-roll, sour-mouth gesture.”

the “START WORK NOW” sign I saw at “Workplace” temp office on East State, east of Alpine. I think I’d feel shitty about my life if my job were less than a career. I mean, teaching’s not prestigious, but it’s respectable,  and the work is safe and clean — we’re not working with dangerous, cancer-giving chemicals or arm-chomping machines. Here, if they want to make money, they have to be busy, which means they — I, if that were my job — wouldn’t time to read or write or do anything but work. They work for the short-term to make things people need or want now: food, medicine, toilet paper,  etc.

“Mommy?” starts a whine-sounding question from one of two girls (probably both under age 6 or so) who came with the made-up, tiny woman.

I wonder why those four women are still here — it’s 10:29, and they’ve been here — the two who were here when I got here about 8:40, and the two others who got here before 9. I wonder why they don’t have work today.

You know, my job’s short-term need is supervising kids and helping them learn some skills. The longer-term things are both the writings I do and they do, and I’d hope that some of what I say and what I model sticks with and inspires the students.

I hear soft jazz and wonder if it’s been on the whole time.

But lots of jobs are about taking care of short-term needs. There’s that line in “Hello, Dolly” about selling something people need everyday and thereby getting rich. Fewer people get to do longer-term things like writing or making other artworks.

I sneezed a moment ago. A recently arrived lady working at a laptop blessed me. I could  make a document recording, say, when I’ve got allergies, which sneezes get blessed and by whom. Of course, such a document would seem to be of little value, little long-term value. Eh, you can try it. It’s no big deal. It could be mildly amusing. There’s something fun for me about looking at pocket pages and seeing bits of things I’ve recorded that we did or heard or said — a bit of bringing me back to me, well, kinda — but maybe it’s also fun to see writings about my life even if I made them. Littler of the two girls with mom,  as they were leaving, she put her hand up against the glass near what’s a metal outline of a woman’s face, and she’s a stand holding a quart-size bucket of what looks like coupons. The little girl, who reminds me a little of pics of my friend’s daughter H., put one hand up to the glass behind the wire woman’s head, and the girl’s other hand was holding a cup and straw and she had bangs and long dark hair and she seem to smile — at the wire woman, or at herself trying to touch the wire woman — kind of sweet but also a kind of sneaky moment. [I say the wire woman, not man, because the sculpture has outline of a bow tie in hair and wavy hair and rounded shoulders. The man sculpture around the corner of the vestibule has mustache and square shoulders and is a couple of inches taller and no hair.]

The wire woman decoration/bucket holder.

Lady to my right greets a dude who brought a case, about the size of a trumpet case but shallower and longer — and he said (and maybe she did too) “nice to meet you” and she lays a vertical-oriented card on the table so he can see it, and he hands her a sideways- (horizontal) oriented card. He gets out something — a “relatively new brochure” of  switches (I see, in open page, silhouettes of switches) “organized by toggles, push buttons” — “It’s the next best thing to having a switch in front of you,” he says — a sample switch, maybe?

And I don’t recall where I was but it doesn’t matter — I’m floating along, or bobbing along — on the waves of consciousness. Or my consciousness/awareness bobs along on waves of moments — moments as waves slapping against the buoy of my consciousness/awareness — eh, metaphors.

So there’s still background chat and, off a ways, mixer sounds — and that mixer ends —  and this cafe as a business-meeting place. This place and other cafes aren’t planned to be biz-meeting places.

A white-haired lady, a fuchsia-dressed mom lady, and two teen or near-teen girls just walked out. It’s 10:53 now. I could go soon and do the shopping. I told M. I’d be back noonish. You know, I could go back to City Hall, but maybe I should process and post some of the info I’ve already gotten. I’d have liked to have linked to my blog when I answered that question about Central School on Facebook this morning but I haven’t posted that map yet.

“ … digi-key, now there’s not much support there …,” dude says in a list of distributors. “… I’ll take what’s there…” I’ve been here a year in August, he says. He said, “my territory’s so large.” He’d earlier said Minnesota, Michigan, Wisconsin, Ohio Valley —  including Kentucky, Missouri, Dakotas.

And, yeah, I think I was going to say something earlier about my writing about the “Shit Show” lady (they’re down to two? I didn’t see the other two leave).

“Being in the audio broadcast market, they’ve driven us to [high quality LED switches?] … They’ve driven us to these high quality standards. We’re a Japanese company, too — …  the synergy’s there,” says the lightly bearded young fellow. He gets out his case. “I’ll show you the technology … [if she wants to do something] I have no problem with that. … I work from home.” His panel says “illuminated switches.” I wonder what her business is.

I’m out of my tea now, too — two drinks down, some water to go.

Sales dude laughed — “Don’t get me started” — he’s listened to sports radio all morning. 6-70? she asks. “E.S.P.N, 1000,” he says. He likes Dave Kaplan. “…price point …,” he says, higher or lower price point, I’m not sure. A certain switch is “quite slick.”

I don’t know that I needed to talk about why the lady uses how many cliches — doesn’t matter. You know, I like that I don’t have to use cliches.

When I told M. yesterday on drive up that she needed new topics, she said I did, too. I spend an hour each day thinking up new stuff, I said. You repeat a lot, M. said.

“The world’s smallest toggle switches,” I hear. It’s hard to tell from my angle how small it is. He’s got kids ages 2 and 4 and lives in Winthrop Harbor, on Illinois side, right on Lake Michigan. His wife is “school teacher.” I think he said “school teacher,” as if there were some other kind of teacher.

I like this green pen against this green cover material.

“And I have a sheet on this, too. I can send it to you,” dude says to the woman who must have asked a particular question. I can’t hear her voice as well as his. He says he needs to distinguish his company — they want to be about “solutions,” I think he cliched. Biz cliches — business, maybe most of interpersonal professional talk is cliches.

“So the brains [are] … right here …,” dude points to something in an opening on back of his tilted demo panel. There’s a small, squarish screen in middle of his demo panel.

There are 3 ladies at the table of 4 — maybe I miscounted before — but they’ve been here almost 3 hours! As have I, I guess.

M. said her surgeon seems impressed some things M. has said — like Tuesday, when he said many people who get spine surgery need it again later but it’s because their spines have bad genes, not because of the surgery. “Correlation, not causation,” M. said, and the surgeon seemed impressed. He must be used to dumb patients, we said.

“This is one of our highest sellers, as far as revenue goes,” and he lists functions including “error number two-four-five, whatever they program whatever they program into it.” She: “So it’s not a switch at all?” He: “No functionality.” “It’s just a display,” one of them said, she, I think.

I did take him some news yesterday but news was focused on union Janis Supreme Court decision or on the Justice Kennedy retirement. I felt bad when hearing about both stories. I try to remind myself that there is no winning permanently in politics, that it’s silly to think that way, and I thought of that story from Charlie Wilson’s War, that we don’t know what’s good or bad but “we’ll see.”

He said something about 3 million switches,  how does he sell that? They gave him something and then “‘Here you go. This is it. This is it.’”

“You have all of Wisconsin?” he asks her. “Well, I share with Mary [something],”  who’s based near Milwaukee. “She has a lot of the drives companies, like Eaton, Magnidev (?) …” she sais. “Is Danfoss in Rockford?” he says. Yes, “but they have a location in  Milwaukee as well,” she says. “That would be why I target Milwaukee,” she says.

So, yeah, I did hear some news yesterday but hearing it exhausted me, so I turned off radio, didn’t read much online, but did read some in 9 p.m. hour.

He: “A lot of our [somethings] can be cross-sold to other customers.” He’ll send her what they have now, and what they make new. He’ll send email to marketing to say “this is important to our distribution partners.”

Last night, I watched PBS on pets, the second half of last Wednesday’s Nature show on pets, and some of Nova on 2017 hurricanes, but M said it was making her anxious, so I turned to Malcolm in the Middle and tidied up the blue bedroom, washed sheets — and I turned off TV about 9:30 but didn’t get to bed till 11. I mean I don’t know that I fully stay away from dudes but it was a little easier yesterday.

Dude seems to say Madison’s big for startups.

It isn’t always easy to turn off my attention off of news — it’s turning from something to, well, nothing.

That dark-haired worker leaves out the north side door. It’s 11:35.

To have nothing in particular for my attention to focus on right away after I turn off TV or radio or set down my phone. But that’s okay. I can focus on getting attention back to my own thoughts — and, yeah, I’m leaving.

Sales guy said he’s got an “office day” tomorrow. He’ll follow up on some things for her.

11:54 car time — My wrist pains — I could type and that’d be easier to read later — but it wouldn’t be mine, in my handwriting — and typing’s tough on wrists, too.

4-something p.m. Not sure I said this in the freewrite above — I may have looked overly precise in citing 1872 map and explaining school location in my Facebook comment,  but I also get tired of people saying the historical stuff without reference to sources. And maybe somebody finds there to be, as I do, fascination (or further interest, at least) in the particulars of there being an 1872 map (and what else does it show) and of there being different names of streets, etc.

Milkshake song and more: 2004 May 12 journal

“My milkshake brings all the boys to the yard/

damn right, it’s better than yours”

That song is used in Mean Girls to illustrate the Plastics walking down the hallway. Damn, it’s a great image — makes them look so damn cool. Just something about the arrogance and lust-object of that song fits perfectly. If we each could only have our own soundtracks, especially as we went through high school — though I recall hearing my own theme song in my head as I did walk down halls, and it did help, yes. Peter Griffin in Family Guy wishes for his own theme song — he hears it when he moves.

But that’s why movie high school is cooler than real high school. It’d be funny to make a movie using all of those cliches: soundtracks, really old people (40s) playing teens, on and on. Yet there is no spirit to satire, no “emotionally engaged” storytelling. Why is that? Are none of our creative centers ever really satirical? Satire comes from that clever place, cerebral, but not feeling like The Onion, my police reports, Family Guy, etc.

Such weird pressures inside my head/sinuses — blowing nose doesn’t make it feel any better this morning. Hope this still goes away on its own. I guess I could go get antibiotic, but I’d rather not — haven’t had one of those in years. Those things do something all the bacteria alter all the bacteria everywhere in your system. I recall hearing not too long ago that it’s better to not blow your nose at all, that blowing forces crap further into sinuses, but how can you not blow your nose? That’d seem to be pretty uncomfortable.

The soundtrack again: your image then is better than your reality. No one can possibly be as cool as on a continuing basis as they are in an image.

Saw J. yesterday at Aldi’s. I was getting eggs for school, egg drop lab; he getting gallon  milk. Not much time to talk, so not much to say. I said, hey, let’s play golf this summer — kind of a goofy thing to say, a “let’s do lunch” thing. Oh, it’s alright. He drives a Camry. It would have been nice to talk to him longer, but we both had places to be —  well, certainly he did — what, three kids now?

Just before that, I had been practicing mindfulness — there-ness, being there in that place at that time — in Aldi checkout. It helped to recall that feeling I had just had a few weeks ago, that feeling about why feel grief when someone dies? It’s really just the same as them not being with you now, just as when you two part company, and that’s OK. It’s something like: when you live in the present, you have no fear of the future.

Packing old-RTHS physics room for moving to new school, May 2004, view from near teacher desk looking back (toward west).

And I’ve been getting frustrated with the packing for the new school move, how I was counting on moving my fragile equipment and bulky, hard-to-box stuff myself, but the time frame’s all f**ked up — they won’t let us do it on the 24th, etc. …

View of old-RTHS physics classroom from back, looking east. May 2004.

View of oldest (1922) part of old RTHS building from physics classroom. May 2004

Damn milkshake refrain is so catchy — it sticks in my head. M’s, too, she says. On way home from movie, we had to ban each other from singing it so it wouldn’t be in our heads keeping us from sleeping that night. I mean, it’s really an odd song — it’s not at all clear exactly what milkshake is. But oh, well.

Had first asparagus of the spring last night, out of our own patch we started — was it three years ago already? At least two, anyway. Really good stuff.

It’s funny: I ate lots of sugar for a few weeks. Now I’m actually sick of it. Didn’t feel like eating the protein bars or getting a snack last night, though for some reasons I did anyway, got a bag of Kit Kat bars, regular and white and dark chocolate. I feel guilty, like I gave in, like this was one of those tests in life — will power or temptation — and I gave in. I’m sure this is a form of paranoia, but sometimes I see these purchasing and eating decisions as connected, signs of weakness leading eventually to obesity or diabetes or something. Why do I worry so much about diabetes? It’s the fear in back of my mind, though I’m not quite sure why. But lately I almost can’t enjoy sweets for thinking they’re permanently damaging me, the same type of feelings I have after smoking for a couple days — the body’s guilt defense?

That’s what my lungs have felt like the last day or so. Crap in my tubes feels like the crap I get there after smoking for a few days, that dry, hard cough.

Remembering that feeling of not fearing the future I described last page — there’s a good argument for compiling some of my best insights into some kind of handy (at-hand) reader just for me to re-read and remind myself of some of these valuable insights — here’s the argument against forgetting all I’ve already written. In a way, I can’t forget all anyway.

As I get older, I’m not getting more conservative, but I’m getting more tolerant, more accepting, relativist and less rigid and judgmental.

Growing around obstacles/challenges versus growing out in the free space: teachers can force kids to grow by presenting an obstacle for them, like forcing a root to grow around a rock or forcing a tree to grow tall to get sun. But take away other trees, you’ve  got a tall, skinny tree that can’t stand on its own, blown over in a breeze (though tall trees good are for lumber, what industry wants, commercially good) or you can grow a tree out in the open, give it full sun, good soil, just let it grow — an interesting analogy.   To continue it: growth is inevitable, kids will keep learning things, learning how to get by in the world … what they learn depends on their circumstances.

Journal from Weds. 12 May 2004, in notebook J35.